The 2021 season has been a disappointing one so far for Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut. In the lead-up to this year’s US Open, the Spaniard suffered a first-round exit at Cincinnati Masters, losing to Grigor Dimitrov, and failed to get past Reilly Opelka in the quarterfinal at Toronto.
US Open Round 3 Preview
The 18th seed faced an extremely dangerous and tricky challenger in Nick Kyrgios in his tournament opener. However, the Spaniard was impressive in his 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 straight-sets victory against the Australian. Bautista Agut backed up that performance with another comprehensive victory in his contest, losing six games in another routine straight-set victory. Bautista Agut breezed past Emil Ruusuvuori 6-1 6-3 6-2 in one hour, 41 minutes to set up a mouth-watering clash against Felix Auger-Aliassime in the third round on Friday.
The Canadian, Auger-Aliassime, who defeated his friend Matteo Berrettini at Cincinnati, was stretched to four sets in his tournament opener against Evgeny Donskoy. The 21-year-old came through his second match 7-6(5) 6-3 6-2 against Spain’s Bernabe Zapata Miralles.
Bautista Agut and Auger-Aliassime are tied at one apiece in their head-head record so far on the ATP tour. Interestingly, both occasions were on indoor hard courts. The veteran Spaniard prefers playing on outdoor hard courts and has a slight edge over his young opponent in their upcoming encounter.
Heading into the contest against Auger-Aliassime, while Bautista Agut can draw positives from his straight-set victories in the opening rounds, he will be aware of the threats the 21-year-old can pose. The Spaniard is known for his strong game from behind the baseline and ferocious intensity. He will need that in abundance against Auger-Aliassime.
Roberto Bautista Agut vs Felix Auger-Aliassime
While Auger-Aliassime has an amazing serve and flat, bludgeoning forehand, the Canadian has a tendency of blowing hot and cold, something he obviously wants to change.
Bautista Agut is 33 and not getting younger. However, the Spaniard has always prevailed physically in long and taxing matches. The upcoming contest between him and Auger Aliassime has all the right ingredients to turn out into a physically draining battle and an edge-of-a-seat thriller.
Despite his inconsistency on tour, Auger-Aliassime has recorded some memorable wins so far this season, none better than his win over Alexander Zverev in five sets at Wimbledon. The veteran Spaniard might be out of form, but he relishes playing on big occasions and is a former Grand Slam semifinalist. He needs to employ his experience to tackle the exuberance of the young Canadian.
Bautista Agut prefers to position himself relatively deep behind the baseline while returning. Auger-Aliassime must aim to serve and volley at times to keep the points shorter. The Canadian can consciously try to play more drop shots to upset Spaniard’s rhythm, as Bautista Agut feels more at home playing from behind the baseline.
His win over Kyrgios in the opening round, which included a bagel in the third set, likely gives Bautista Agut a lot of confidence as he prepares to battle the Canadian.
In what promises to be an enticing match-up, can the veteran Roberto Bautista Agut prevail over his young opponent to keep his US Open campaign on track? Or will Felix Auger-Aliassime’s exuberance be too hot for the Spaniard to handle?
Let the action get underway as Roberto Bautista Agut and Felix Auger-Aliassime are all set to lock horns on Friday in New York!
Main Photo from Getty.