After 32 minutes, Roberto Bautista Agut found himself serving at 0/40 to avoid a 1-6, 0-1 deficit against Daniil Medvedev at the Western & Southern Open on Wednesday. What followed was one of the most memorable comebacks of the year.
The 32-year-old changed the pace and served with confidence to escape immediate danger, before turning the tables on the defending champion to clinch a 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 triumph. Bautista Agut saved 15 of 20 break points and won 71 per cent of second serve return points (24/34) to advance after two hours and 13 minutes.
“After the first set, I was thinking a lot of bad things,” said Bautista Agut. “It was a very good comeback.”
With his second ATPHead2Head win in as many matches against Medvedev, Bautista Agut is through to his first semi-final at the Western & Southern Open. The World No. 12 also defeated Medvedev in straight sets to win the 2017 Tata Open Maharashtra final in Chennai.
This is the second time Bautista Agut has made a strong start on the ATP Tour this year. Following the 2019 off-season, the 6’0” right-hander claimed eight consecutive victories in Australia to open the year. Bautista Agut had already beaten last year’s semi-finalist Richard Gasquet and 11th seed Karen Khachanov to book his meeting with Medvedev in New York.
Bautista Agut will face Novak Djokovic for a place in the championship match. Bautista Agut trails Djokovic 3-8 in their ATP Head2Head series, but has won two of their three most recent encounters.
“He didn’t lose a match this year. He is a great player, very solid, very aggressive and he has a lot of weapons,” said Bautista Agut. “Against him, I will try to play my best game to beat him, which is not easy. If I can play a good level, it is going to be a good match.”
Medvedev made a rapid start on Grandstand, finishing extended rallies with delicate drop shots and pinpoint backhands to establish a 4-0 lead. The Russian wrapped up the first set after just 28 minutes with a powerful first serve into Bautista Agut’s forehand.
After saving three consecutive break points at 0/40 in the opening game of the second set, Bautista Agut charged to the net on numerous occasions to break serve for a 3-1 lead. But Medvedev continued to find success on his return, playing with greater consistency than his opponent to earn consecutive service breaks for a 4-3 lead.
Bautista Agut found a way back into the match, rushing Medvedev with powerful forehands at crucial moments. The Spaniard earned three straight games to extend the match to a deciding set.
After trading breaks to open the third set, Bautista Agut saved break point and moved to the net to hold serve for a 2-1 lead. The World No. 12 made the crucial breakthrough at 3-2, dictating rallies from the baseline to force Medvedev into errors. Bautista Agut maintained his advantage to serve for the match at 5-4 and held his nerve in a marathon final game to claim the first spot in the semi-finals
“I tried to do some different things. I tried to mix up a little bit with the slice… [I hit] some great volleys and it was a fantastic match for me,” said Bautista Agut.