Roberto Bautista Agut took his chances and recovered from a third-set let down on Wednesday at Wimbledon to book a place in his first Grand Slam championship semi-final.
The No. 23 seed from Spain lost his first set at the grass-court major, but won 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 over Argentine Guido Pella, the No. 26 seed, in three hours and eight minutes on No. 1 Court at the All England Club.
“I think I played a great tournament,” said Bautista Agut. “I was playing very good in the first week of the tournament. And today, it was a very difficult match. Guido Pella is a good opponent, has won really good matches this week [and] he was really tough to beat… I’m very happy.”
Bautista Agut is the sixth Spanish man to reach the semi-finals at The Championships, following in the footsteps of Manuel Alonso-Areyzaga (1921), Manuel Santana (1963, 1966), Andres Gimeno (1970), Manuel Orantes (1972) and Rafael Nadal (2006-08, 2010-11, 2018). Nadal plays American Sam Querrey in the quarter-finals later today.
Bautista Agut will now prepare to meet World No. 1 and four-time champion Novak Djokovic on Friday for a place in the Wimbledon final. Djokovic, who defeated No. 21 seed David Goffin of Belgium 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 in the last eight earlier on Wednesday afternoon, is 7-3 lifetime against Bautista Agut in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.
By improving to a 28-11 match record in 2019 with a place in the Wimbledon semi-finals, Bautista Agut moves up to seventh position in the ATP Race To London for one of eight spots at the prestigious Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 10-17 November. Buy Tickets Today
For 40 minutes, Bautista Agut’s ploy to run around his backhand to strike powerful forehands reaped dividends, as, on three occasions, he came within a point of a 4-1 advantage. But Pella worked his way back to 4-4 by clinching his sixth break point chance of the game, when Bautista Agut left the court open to attack. Pella then did well to save four break points in an 18-point game for a 5-4 lead, but two games later, the Argentine tired and struck a backhand into the net to hand Bautista Agut a 6-5 advantage. The first set lasted 59 minutes.
From 4-5 in the first set, Bautista Agut won five straight games, which included a service break in the first game of the second set. More than 13 hours of play at this event for Pella began to show, against one of the ATP Tour’s most consistent baseliners. While the Argentine was unable to convert a break point at 1-2, with Bautista Agut serving at 30/40, a total of 16 backhand errors cost Pella in the first two sets. Bautista Agut sealed the second set with a forehand approach winner on his second set point.
On the back foot, Pella soon regrouped and wrestled away the momentum from Bautista Agut when the Spaniard made three straight errors early in the third set. He saved one break point at 4-2, but was unable to convert two set points on Bautista’s serve in the next game. The World No. 26 kept his cool at 5-3, clinching the set with a forehand approach that Bautista Agut hit into the net.
Bautista Agut reverted to his original tactics, positioning himself in the Ad court and gave Pella the run around on No. 1 Court. Having broken Pella in the fourth game of the fourth set, the 31-year-old didn’t look back and came close to a 5-2 lead, but for a backhand save from Pella. Ultimately, it was Bautista Agut’s forehand (31 winners in the match) that made the difference.
“I think today it was a good opportunity for both of us to play each other and get the chance to play the semi-finals,” said Bautista Agut. “It was a really, really tough match. Guido really played amazing tennis. It was not easy to manage all the emotions and get through all of them to win the match.”
Over the past 10 days, Pella had accounted for two previous Wimbledon finalists — fourth seed and 2017 runner-up Kevin Anderson in the third round and No. 15 seed and 2016 finalist Milos Raonic in the fourth round. The 29-year-old won his first ATP Tour trophy at the Brasil Open in Sao Paulo (d. Garin) in February and is now 27-16 on the season.
“I think after the first two sets, I was feeling a little bit tired, but just because of this match,” said Pella. “Roberto, his game is similar to my game. I think he’s the most solid guy on tour maybe behind Djokovic. I think, now, in this tournament he’s playing very, very good. I think I did my best. Of course, maybe in a few moments of the match, I could play a little bit more aggressive or a little bit better, but I can’t decide if I play good or bad. So I tried to do my best.”
Source: ATP World Tour