ATP Western & Southern Open: Novak Djokovic edges past Roberto Bautista Agut
Djokovic survived a tough encounter to reach the final (Image: Matthew Stockman)

Novak Djokovic rallied from the brink of defeat to end a three-match hardcourt losing streak to Roberto Bautista Agut and reach the Western & Southern Open final. 

The world number one came into the match unbeaten in 2020 and had not dropped a set in his opening three matches in New York though there was a great deal of intrigue coming into this encounter. Bautista Agut had beaten the Serbian in their last three meetings on the surface and had rallied from a set and a break down to beat defending champion Daniil Medvedev in the quarterfinals.

Bautista Agut narrowly fell short of claiming another win over Djokovic (Image: Matthew Stockman)
Bautista Agut narrowly fell short of claiming another win over Djokovic (Image: Matthew Stockman)

It was evident early on that the Spaniard would once again cause trouble for Djokovic as he broke at 1-1, though the top seed was immediately able to break back to get on level terms. Bautista Agut was undeterred however, and broke again at 3-3. On this occasion, the eighth seed saved a break point to consolidate for a 5-3 lead and comfortably served the set out two games later. 

Struggling with the neck injury that bothered him earlier in the tournament, an early medical timeout seemed to do the world of good as he broke immediately afterwards on his way to a 4-1 lead in set two. Djokovic had a point for a double break lead which was saved by Bautista Agut, who broke back the next game and held for 4-4. The Spaniard was just six points from victory at 30-30 in the next game but the top seed, following further treatment, held for 5-4, and after a delay to close the roof broke to force a decider. 

After an early exchange of breaks Djokovic took control of the decider, saving a break point as he held for a commanding 5-2 lead. On the brink of defeat Bautista Agut rallied, breaking back down 3-5 to level the match and, with Djokovic making careless errors, found himself serving for the match at 6-5. The Spaniard, however, was unable to close it out with Djokovic breaking, and the Serbian played a perfect tiebreaker to close the match out after a gruelling three hours.

Djokovic received medical treatment in the second set (Image: Matthew Stockman)
Djokovic received medical treatment in the second set (Image: Matthew Stockman)

Djokovic was certainly far from his best physically but ultimately pulled through, and now sits at an astonishing 22-0 for the season. The top seed is now in a record-equalling 51st Masters 1000 singles final and will be the huge favorite to win a 35th Masters title in the final against Milos Raonic, having dropped just two sets in ten meetings against the big-serving Canadian. Though he will undoubtedly be disappointed by his defeat, it was a good week overall for Bautista Agut; no one will want to face him in next week’s US Open.

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