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Berdych vs Bautista-Agut ATP Doha Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Fit-again Berdych takes on Djokovic-slayer Bautista-Agut in Doha final

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 4 Jan 2019
  • Tomas Berdych vs Roberto Bautista-Agut is live from Doha on Saturday, 5 January from 6:00pm local time/ 3:00pm GMT
  • Berdych leads 4-2 on head-to-head; they are 2-2 on hard courts
Tomas Berdych. (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Former world No. 4, Tomas Berdych is one win away from a title-winning return to the ATP World Tour, but he faces a tough final hurdle in Doha as he takes on the tenacious Roberto Bautista-Agut on Saturday.

After missing the entire second half of 2018 due to a back injury, Berdych will be thrilled to have come through four rounds unscathed on his return to the sport in Doha, where he has beaten Philipp Kohlschreiber, Fernando Verdasco, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Marco Cecchinato to reach his first final since May 2017.

The former top ten mainstay had dropped out of the top-70 by the end of 2018 due to his inactivity, but he has begun the road to recovery on a very positive note.

The Czech has conceded just one set this week, against Fernando Verdasco in a tough second round contest that went over two hours, but he has been largely comfortable since then, brushing aside Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-2 6-4 in the quarter finals before taking out Roland Garros semi-finalist, Marco Cecchinato in the last four.

Cecchinato had his chances in the opening set- he got the first break of the match for 4-2, but Berdych hit back immediately, while the Italian blew a 6-3 lead in the first set tie break, with Berdych winning five points in a row to snatch the set. The former Wimbledon finalist rammed home the advantage early in the second set, jumping out to a 3-0 lead, and despite failing to take any of three match points on Cecchinato's serve at 2-5, the Czech served out the match to love in the next game to take his place in the final.

"I'm not satisfied yet, because there is still one more to go," Berdych said. "I did some very important decisions in the past six months, and so far all of them seems they were right. It is very early to judge. I still have to be very patient, even though the results right now are clicking and it's all going well. But I really just need to stay very focused and hope to go all the way, because the season and everything will be extremely long."

He faces a tough challenge on Saturday, as he battles Roberto Bautista-Agut for the title. 

What a week Bautista-Agut is having! His victory over Stan Wawrinka in the quarter finals was impressive, but he took it to another level on Friday, when he recovered from a set and a break down to score a stunning victory over world No. 1, Novak Djokovic. 

Roberto Bautista Agut. (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR/AFP/Getty Images)
With the first set already in the bag, Djokovic looked to be sauntering to another routine win when he broke for 4-3 in the second set, but the tenacious Bautista-Agut refused to go away, digging deep to force the break back in the next game. The Spaniard became more aggressive, while retaining the dogged defence that had characterized his career over the years, and had Djokovic in all sorts of trouble as a result.

The world No. 24 missed a set point as Djokovic served to stay in the set at 4-5, and another two at 5-6, but he remained undeterred, going on to take the set in the tie break on his fifth set point.

There was no let down at the start of the third set as Bautista-Agut broke in the opening game of the set, and he remarkably controlled the match from there, going through the entire final set without giving up break point. It was well worth all of the two hours and 35 minutes, as the Spaniard pulled off his second win in nine matches against the world No. 1 to move into Doha final.

“I will remember this match all my life. It was an unbelievable atmosphere,” Bautista Agut said. “I work every day to play this tennis. I know it’s difficult to play at this level. That’s why Novak is No. 1 in the world. But I cannot be more happy than I am now.”

Bautista-Agut has now made at least one ATP World Tour final in each of the last seven seasons, and he will play for a ninth career title on Saturday. 

He won two trophies in 2018- in Auckland and Dubai, while he was runner-up in Gstaad, and semi-finalist in Halle and St. Petersburg in his other notable results from last season. He ended the year ranked 24th, but that could have arguably been better had he not suffered from an abdominal problem during the North American hard court swing in the second half of the year.

Bautista-Agut ran through his first three matches of the new season in straight sets, beating Matteo Berrettini, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Stan Wawrinka, but none surely felt sweeter than his big win over Djokovic- can he now finish things off by beating Berdych in Saturday's final?

Berdych owns a 4-2 record against Bautista-Agut, but interestingly, they are 2-2 on hard courts. Berdych's power naturally gives him the advantage on this surface, but Bautista-Agut has shown over the years that he is very capable on quicker courts with his mixture of attack and defence, as six of his eight titles coming on hard courts.

Berdych has done very well in his comeback tournament, but Bautista-Agut has been playing on a higher plane this week, and I’m backing the Spaniard to be too tough for the Czech wildcard on Saturday. 

Tomas Berdych vs Roberto Bautista-Agut is live from Doha on Saturday, 5 January from 6:00pm local time/ 3:00pm GMT

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Berdych vs Bautista-Agut ATP Doha Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Fit-again Berdych takes on Djokovic-slayer Bautista-Agut in Doha final

Tomas Berdych takes on Roberto Bautista-Agut in the final of the Qatar Open in Doha on Saturday. Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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