Bengaluru/Doha, January 4: World No. 1 Novak Djokovic was full of praise for Nikoloz Basilashvili having come from a set down to beat the Georgian and earn a Qatar ExxonMobil Open semifinal clash with Roberto Bautista Agut.
Djokovic lost two of his first three service games against Basilashvili and dropped the first set, as he had done in his last-16 win over Marton Fucsovics at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex courts.
However, just as he had done against Fucsovics, Djokovic – the 2016 and 2017 champion – rallied and secured a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 success in a little under two hours.
Speaking on court after the match, Djokovic praised fifth-seeded Basilashvili, who he had anticipated would provide him with a stern test.
"I thought Basilashvili was playing terrific from the beginning, I expected him to," Djokovic said. "I knew that he was playing the tennis of his life in the last 10 months.
"He's definitely one of the greatest hitters in the game and I wish him all the best for the rest of the season."
Later on Thursday, Djokovic spent another 65 minutes on court alongside his brother Marko in a doubles match that they lost in a deciding tie-break to David Goffin and Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
Goffin and Herbert staved off three match points before winning 6-1, 3-6, 15-13 to advance to the final.
Novak Djokovic can now solely focus on the singles tournament and a semifinal clash with Bautista Agut, who defeated Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 6-4 and is still yet to drop a set at the tournament.
In the other semifinal of the ATP World Tour 250 Series tournament, Marco Cecchinato will meet Tomas Berdych after the duo's respective wins over Dusan Lajovic and Herbert.
At the Maharashtra Tata Open in Pune, Steve Darcis became the first unranked player to reach a semi-final in the ATP Tour's history.
Darcis, who missed the entire 2018 season through injury, overcame Malek Jaziri to set up a last-four clash with Ivo Karlovic, who at, 39, is bidding to become the oldest finalist since 43-year-old Ken Rosewall went that far in 1977.
The other semi-final will be contested between Kevin Anderson, who overcame Jaume Munar in straight sets, and Gilles Simon after the Frenchman came from a set down to beat Benoit Paire.
(With inputs from OPTA and other Agencies)