Novak Djokovic faces tricky Roberto Bautista Agut at Wimbledon | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World Sports

Novak Djokovic faces tricky Roberto Bautista Agut at Wimbledon

Associated Press
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AP
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates defeating Belgium’s David Goffin during a men’s quarterfinal match on day nine of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Wednesday, July 10, 2019.

WIMBLEDON, England — Novak Djokovic has to look back only a few months to remind himself he shouldn’t underestimate his next opponent at Wimbledon.

The top-ranked Serb will face Roberto Bautista Agut, a player who beat him in both of their meetings in 2019 — on hard courts in Doha and Miami.

So while the match is pitting a four-time Wimbledon champion with 15 major titles against a player in his first Grand Slam semifinal, recent history suggests things might not be quite so one-sided.

“He has won twice against me so far this year. That’s certainly going to give him confidence coming into the match,” Djokovic said.

Ahead of the quarterfinals, Bautista Agut was — somewhat surprisingly — the only player who hadn’t dropped a set this tournament. That streak ended against Guido Pella, but the 23rd-seeded Spaniard still won 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Djokovic had an easier time against David Goffin after erasing an early break, winning 6-4, 6-0, 6-2.

Djokovic is known for his ability to extend rallies and keep the ball in play with his defensive ability, and Bautista Agut said that’s a style of play that suits him.

“He is very solid from baseline. He likes to play a lot of rallies,” Bautista Agut said. “Well, I like to play against (an) opponent like this, to play a match with a lot of rallies.”

Djokovic thinks Bautista Agut could be even more dangerous on the quicker surface at Wimbledon.

“The ball bounces lower on the grass, which is I think more suitable to his style of the game. He doesn’t like when the ball bounces higher to his backhand,” Djokovic said. “Obviously playing on grass, it’s different.”

With Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal set to square off in the other semifinal, Bautista Agut is the odd man out in a final four that includes the sport’s ever-present Big Three. It seems not even he had expected to make it this far: He had scheduled his bachelor party for this week.

“I had planned to be in Ibiza right now. We had everything organized already. My friends, six of them, are all there,” Bautista Agut said. “Well, it feels better to be here in London.”

Categories: Sports | US-World
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