Novak Djokovic eliminated from Qatar Open

Ruben Holloway
January 7, 2019

The world number one bowed out at the fourth-round stage of the first major of the year 12 months ago after losing in round two in 2017.

Bautista Agut dug deep and managed to overcome the Serb in three high quality sets- 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-4.

And Friday's win was only the second victory in nine matches against Djokovic for 30-year-old Bautista Agut.

Djokovic broke the Spaniard in the second game of the first set to take a 2-0 lead.

However, the Serb, twice a previous tournament victor in Doha, remains the overwhelming favourite to win the tournament and now has a 15-1 record overall in Doha. Either that or Djokovic, who was fading as the match progressed, lapsed into errors when the Spaniard turned on him what he usually does to opponents - showcasing his best tennis at crucial points of a contest.For Djokovic, this time, the fatigue is both physical and emotional.

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His withdrawal follows that of Tomas Berdych, which was announced on Saturday. "That's it", Djokovic abruptly said in his post-match press conference.

"I will remember this match all my life".

Bautista Agut is looking to avoid another early exit in the season's first Grand Slam, having lost to compatriot Fernando Verdasco in the opening round previous year.

"You said even after this week". I care playing with him more than with anybody else, so that's why it took a lot out of me emotionally.

"Sport needs Rafa, no question about it".

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'He played a good game.

Djokovic and Nadal have met in the finals of all four of the Grand Slams and 52 times in total.

'This is what I was looking forward to, to get from this tournament, as many matches as possible, to get ready for the Australian Open, so I'm very pleased. The match ended after 1 hour and 56 minutes.

They first met in on court in Paris in 2006 when, ironically, Nadal was declared the victor after Djokovic had to retire during the match with injury.

The 32-year-old had surgery on his ankle in November and only resumed training three weeks ago.

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The defeat will undoubtedly raise concerns over Djokovic's fitness ahead of the Australian Open, which starts on 14 January.

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