Preview: Djokovic fights Nemesis Bautista Agut on a hard court | ATP Tower


Only a select group of players have achieved the rare feat of beating Novak Djokovic three times in a row on hard courts. If the No. 1 player in the FedEx ATP rankings wants to maintain his unbeaten (21-0) in 2020, he will have to beat one of them when he faces Roberto Bautista Agut in the semi-final Thursday in the West. & Southern Open.Bautista Agut has beaten Djokovic in his last three hard court encounters in Shanghai in 2016 and Doha and Miami in 2019. Although the Serb leads his ATP Head2Head streak 9-3, he was put to work even in the victory against the Spaniard. Bautista Agut has won a set in three of Djokovic’s last four wins in their rivalry.

“His style of play is so consistent. He doesn’t give much at all. He doesn’t make a lot of direct mistakes. He doesn’t lower his tennis level much on any surface.

Bautista Agut hasn’t lost any of his signature resilience on his return to competition this week, following a failure in her third round victory over No.11 seed Karen Khachanov and a quarter-final victory over La third seed and defending champion Daniil Medvedev. . The 32-year-old started this year in great shape, going undefeated (6-0) in ATP Cup action and displayed the same form in New York.

” I am happy. I think I practiced hard [and] do a lot of good things at home, ”said Bautista Agut. “It’s never easy to come back and play well in the first tournament. I think I have to be patient and try to enjoy every game I play here after six months without competition. I’m just happy and happy to be in the semi-finals.

“Novak is a great player. It’s true that I played very good matches against Novak, [but] he hasn’t lost a game this year. He is the favorite. I’ll try to play my game and try to enjoy another good game against him.

Djokovic may have experienced déjà vu if he watched how the Spaniard’s 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 comeback against Medvedev unfolded. The Serb found himself in a similar position last year in Miami, but Bautista Agut continued to tirelessly chase balls and pounced on the limited opportunities available to him, resuming his way to a 1-6, 7 triumph. -5, 6-3. .

Although many people saw the game as an upheaval, Djokovic saw it as a classic example of what the Spaniard does best.

“I was winning comfortably, [up a] set, have a few chances in the second set, then things turned around. But that’s what he does, ”recalls Djokovic. “It slows you down. He exhausts you and tries, in a way, to choke you on the court and wait for his chances, and then he takes it.

Djokovic also picked up from where he left off earlier this year and advanced to the semi-finals without losing a set, tying the tournament record for most appearances (8) in the last four. He is now two wins away from creating even more history at this event. If he wins the title on Friday, he will equal Rafael Nadal’s record 35 ATP Masters 1000 trophies.

The 2018 champion (d. Federer) has historically thrived in the boisterous New York atmosphere and embraces the new normal, finding ways to excel even without fans cheering him on.

“I miss the crowd. Everyone does it because it’s a huge part of what we do in professional tennis. But he is [what] it is, and I am trying to make the most of this situation and those kinds of circumstances, ”Djokovic said. “I had a great tournament, I reached the semi-finals [and haven’t] dropped a set. I’m feeling good [and] I also like to play on this field at the moment. I’m used to it. “


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