Roger Federer earned a match point but ended up losing in the quarter-finals of his comeback tournament at the Qatar Open as Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili prevailed against the weary-looking Swiss 3-6 6-1 7-5.
In the second match of his return after 14 months out and two knee surgeries, Federer impressed in the first set on Thursday but then struggled to move as freely.
But the 20-time grand slam champion still had the chance to progress when he earned a break point in the decisive set while leading 5-4 – only for Basilashvili to survive, immediately take the crucial break himself and convert his third match point.
After winning in one hour and 50 minutes, Basilashvili, the world No.42, was left enthusing: “It is unbelievable because he is one of the greatest of all-time.
“To play him means so much to me. I’m very happy he came back to play, and to win against him is a dream come true.
“He was always my idol, and I am sure he is to many tennis players and fans, so I am unbelievably happy.”
Earlier in Doha, Russia’s Andrey Rublev became the first player ever to earn two walkover victories in a row and could lift the trophy by winning just two matches after reaching the semi-finals.
Rublev had a first-round bye, saw French opponent Richard Gasquet quit injured ahead of their second round game, and, on Thursday also didn’t have to play his quarter-final because Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics was not fit to play.
“For 1st time in ATPTour history, a player has received walkovers in back-to-back rounds,” the ATP tweeted.
The world No.8 has raked in $US52,595 ($A67,801) without playing a single point.
He is now set to play his first game at the event in the semis on Friday against top seed Dominic Thiem or Roberto Bautista Agut – provided the winner stays fit.
Rublev, however, has kept himself busy in Qatar by reaching the doubles final together with Australian Open singles semi-finalist Aslan Karatsev.