Roberto Bautista Agut pulled a stunning upset in the semifinals of the Shanghai Rolex Masters on Saturday. The Spaniard, who was in the last four of a Masters 1000 event for only the second time in his career, took out defending champion and world number one Novak Djokovic in straight sets to reach his first Masters 1000 final. Both sets started out tight, with the breaks all coming late, always ending in favour of Bautista Agut, who held his nerve to claim a 6-4, 6-4 victory.
Bautista Agut breaks late
Both men started out strongly on serve, giving their opponents very little to work with through the first few games. As he does, Djokovic was consistently putting pressure on the Bautista Agut serve, but the Spaniard was up to the task, keeping the top seed back and preventing him from really dominating on return. The first close call came in the seventh game when Djokovic pushed Bautista Agut to deuce, but the Spaniard held.
Two games later, Djokovic had a chance to seize control of the set when he held a pair of break points. But once again, Bautista Agut was up to the task, saving both before holding. The missed opportunity proved costly for the top seed, as Bautista Agut turned the tables on him in the tenth game as Djokovic served to stay in the set. The Spaniard grabbed a 30-40 lead, his first break point of the set, and converted to wrap up the opening set 6-4.
Wild finish results in upset
The second set started out in a similar fashion to the first, with both men holding with relative ease through four games. The craziness started in the fifth game when Bautista Agut had to survive a pair of deuces to hold. Just like the first set, after facing pressure on his own serve, the Spaniard quickly flipped the script. Djokovic was forced to save a break point at 30-40 but was unable to save the second at 40-AD and, for the second day in a row, the top seed found himself down a set and a break.
Just like his quarterfinal match, the Serbian was quick to recover. He converted his third break point in the following game to reclaim the break. But Bautista Agut could smell the victory and kept pressing, forcing the next game to deuce and was rewarded with a break at 40-AD for a 5-3 lead and a chance to serve out the match.
The next game was the craziest of the match. Djokovic held a pair of break points which were saved before Bautista Agut reached match point. But the Serbian wasn’t done yet, saving it and the two match points that followed, finally converting his fourth break point of the game after saving three match points in five deuces to close the gap to 4-5. But once again, Djokovic could not hold on to his serve at the end of the set. It only took Bautista Agut one break/match point to send the world number one packing as the match finished on a run of five straight breaks of serve.
By the numbers
Return dominated this match, so it’s not surprising that neither man’s service numbers were particularly good. Bautista Agut had the narrow edge in first serve points, 64 percent to Djokovic’s 63, but was slightly weaker in the second serve department, winning 47 percent to Djokovic’s 50. The key area was break points. Bautista Agut saved seven of the nine he faced, while converting four of his five against the Djokovic serve.