“I think I started pretty well, the first set was good, I didn’t make many mistakes, I got the break and closed the set, saving one break point,” Lopez told Sport360 after his victory.
“Then in the second set there were a lot of opportunities for me, 0-40 and a few more break points, I had many break points and I couldn’t make it so that was getting me very tight. So I didn’t know what would have happened had I lost the second set. After being up in the scoreboard and after losing so many chances, my head was going nuts a little bit at that time. But luckily I made it in the tiebreak, I don’t know how.”
Djokovic, who is on a 17-match winning streak and is looking to reach a record-equalling 18th consecutive final, is undefeated this year. But Lopez is keen on trying to be the one to hand the Serb his first loss of 2016.
“I hope I have a beautiful match. I hope to have a big battle against him. It’s a great opportunity for me. I practice every day and I work very hard every day to play these matches so I’m really looking forward, to play that match,” said Lopez.
“I played some of my best tennis at the Open last year against Novak in the night session. I remember the match was very close and I had a few break points to go up a break in the fourth, but then he played very well in the tiebreak. I have great memories from that match, we played in Shanghai after that but he beat me easily, he was unbeatable by that time of the year.
Feliz! Sufriendo sabe mejor. Toca dobles! /Happy for the victory. Suffering tastes better. Now doubles time! pic.twitter.com/N3oFxsadJM
As clouds moved into the Gulf, conditions remained hot at 33 degrees Celsius at the Aviation Club, where Berdych tamed Italian qualifier Thomas Fabbiano 6-2, 6-2.
Bautista Agut claimed a 16th win of the season with a 6-0, 6-1 hammering of South Korean youngster Chung Hyeon.
Flamboyant Australian Nick Kyrgios won his second match in less than 24 hours, after a late arrival in the emirate following his first career title last weekend in Marseille.
The unseeded threat dispatched Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3, 6-2 and next faces Berdych, who he beat last weekend in the French indoor semi-finals, although two-time finalist Berdych knocked the talented 20-year-old out of the Australian Open last month.
“He’s doing well, for me it’s going to be a big challenge. I have a lot to get back after last week. I must refocus myself, try to raise the game, and play some good tennis again,” Berdych said.
“He’s full of fireworks on the court – in a good way. He’s playing really aggressive. He’s going for a lot of shots, risking a lot.”
Bautista Agut, who has won two titles already this season, will next face Marcos Baghdatis after the popular Cypriot defeated Canadian Vasek Pospisil 6-4, 6-2.
The 18th-ranked Spaniard is thrilled with his progress this season after schooling the teenaged Chung, denying him a second career ATP quarter-final.
“It’s good to win like this, playing well and doing everything you practise for. But I have to be humble and know that to keep winning like this, it’s impossible.
“For every win you must work a lot, play for two hours. I’m happy because I won fast today (54 minutes) but I know it’s going to be tougher and tougher.”
Two more seeds also reached the last eight, with sixth seeded Spaniard Feliciano Lopez beating Czech Lukas Rosol 6-3, 7-6 (9/7) and German eighth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber putting out young Croatian Borna Coric 6-2, 7-6 (7/5).
Djokovic, who will face Malek Jaziri in the second round on Wednesday, enjoyed time with family and friends at Wild Wadi Waterpark and the Burj Al Arab Hotel.
Elsewhere, world number four Stan Wawrinka had the luxury of zip-lining across the fountains at Dubai Mall, while Spaniard Feliciano Lopez had perhaps the most exciting afternoon as he spent time zipping around in a Dubai Police Audi R8.