Bautista Agut Gives Master Class In Montpellier

Roberto Bautista Agut (photo: Open Sud de France/Facebook)

WASHINGTON, February 26, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

On Thursday evening, Roberto Bautista Agut gave a master class performance in easily outdistancing 113th-ranked French qualifier Gregoire Barrere, 6-0, 6-3, to move into the quarterfinal round of the ATP 250 Open Sud de France in Montpellier.

The No. 13 Bautista Agut needed just 66 minutes to confirm his place among the last eight as he pursues his 10th career ATP Tour title. He served three aces, won 72 percent (18 of 25) of his first-serve points, saved three of four break points he faced and broke Barrere in six of the Frenchman’s eight service games. Bautista Agut won the first eight games of the match before Barrere finally got on the scoreboard with a service hold.

Next, Baustisa Agut will oppose sixth seed Ugo Humbert of France for the first time in one of the Friday quarterfinal matchups.

Elsewhere, in just his second ATP Tour match of 2021, Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina beat No. 4 seed Hubert Hurkacz, 7-5, 6-2. It was the 56th-ranked Davidovich Fokina’s second straight win over the World No. 30 from Poland after beating him in last year’s US Open.

Also, No. 3 seed Dusan Lajovic of Serbia was upset by No. 102 Dennis Novak of Austria, 7-6 (5), 7-5. The 27th-ranked Lajovic was broken four times during the one hour and 31-minute match.

Others advancing from Thursday’s second-round play in the Sud de France Arena were: No. 83 Egor Gerasimov of Belarus, who backed up his victory against Andy Murray by taking out No. 60 Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia, 6-4, 7-6 (4); and No. 144 Peter Gojowzcyk of Germany, who bested No. 69 Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4), 6-3, despite 29 aces served by the Czech.

On Friday, Gerasimov will face Davidovich Fokina; Novak takes on Gojowzcyk; and in a matchup of seeded players, No. 2 David Goffin of Belgium opposes No. 7 Lorenzo Sonego from Italy.

In doubles, the No. 1 seeds Henri Kontinen of Finland and Edouard Roger-Vasselin from France reached the semifinals with a 6-3, 6-4 win over French duo Ugo Humbert and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Schwartzman begins Golden Swing with win

World No. 9 and top seed Diego Schwartzman, playing in his home country, won his first clay-court match since reaching the French Open semifinals last October on Thursday evening. Schwartzman needed just 67 minutes to beat Marco Cecchinato of Italy, 6-2, 6-2, to move into the quarterfinals against No. 5 seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain, who defeated 234th-ranked Argentine qualifier Tomas Martin Etcheverry, 2-6, 7-6 (5), 7-5.

Schwartzman, a finalist at Cordoba last year, broke the 87th-ranked Ceccinato’s serve in five of eight games while saving six of seven breaks he faced. He outpointed his opponent 66-42.

“I’m very, very happy. It’s my first clay-court match since Roland Garros, so it has been many months,” Schwartzman said after the match, quoted by the ATP website. “[Then I spent] many months preparing for other surfaces. Coming back to my country and playing the first match on clay this year and playing like this was very nice for me. It’s a really good start.”

Earlier Thursday, No. 3 seed Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia was upset by 335th-ranked qualifier Juan Manuel Cerundolo of Argentina, 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-2, in two hours and 19 minutes. It was the first match that the 41st-ranked Kecmanovic had former World No. 3 and Argentine great David Nalbandian as his coach, a partnership that was announced via social media earlier this week.

Also advancing to the quarterfinals was No. 7 seed Thiago Monteiro of Brazil, who defeated Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain, 6-3, 6-4. On Friday, the 74th-ranked Monteiro will face Cerundolo. The other two quarterfinals will pair No. 2 seed Benoit Paire of France against No. 95 Federico Coria of Argentina and No. 128 Jozef Kovalik of Slovakia against 130th-ranked Argentine qualifier Facundo Bagnis.

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By the numbers

What they’re saying

Coco Gauff on building confidence after reaching the semifinals of her first WTA 500 of the new season following the Australian Open:

“Definitely I think playing was the right decision, even though I had to go through quallies, I think it was the right decision to play and at the end of the day I need more matches under my belt. I’m still new and need a lot more experience and it definitely plays a role.

“I didn’t realize how much a role experience plays until I started playing some players who are a lot older than me and they know what to do, even when it comes to the little mind games and all that, they know what to do in those moments. So I’m just learning and picking up a few tricks and as I go.”

What they’re podcasting

What they’re writing

Simon Cambers of Tennis Majors writes about how the pandemic helped Iga Swiatek adjust after winning her Roland Garros title.

What they’re sharing on social media

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