SOFIA, February 6, 2016
Four seeds and four countries were represented in the semi-finals of the inaugural Garanti Koza Sofia Open on Saturday at Arena Armeec.
First time top-seed at an ATP event Roberto Bautista-Agut was first up on centre court beating the tournament’s number six Gilles Muller 7-6, 6-4. The world number 18 from Spain withstood nine aces and saved the only break point he faced, converting the first of his seven own chances in the third game of the second set to seal victory in one hour and 35 minutes.
“This is the best start of a season I have ever had. I keep my level of tennis I had played in Australia,” told Bautista-Agut after reaching his second final of the season. The 27-year-old clinched the title in Auckland and reached the 4th round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
“I took on tough opponents here, leftie players. The first set today was very close and I just wanted to stay focused until the last point. I had a lot of break points but Gilles served well and played amazing during these points. Eventually I gained the break in the second set and served well until the end of the match,” Bautista-Agut analyzed his semi-finals match and is looking forward to Sunday’s final.
“Preparations for tomorrow will be the same as during the whole week. I enjoy the moment now and the situation, having such a good start into the season. I also played good tennis during the last six months in 2015 and I still want to keep this level,” he continued. Representing Spain at the Olympic Games in Rio later this year will still remain a goal for Bautista-Agut.
“Every sportsman wants to be part of the Olympics and for sure I have in mind that I want to be there. Of course, it’s still a bit too early to keep thinking of it all the time but I keep working hard for being in Rio in August,” the current Spanish number three explained.
Bautista-Agut will face second seed Viktor Troicki for the title on Sunday. The world number 25, who defended his title in Sydney, rallied back to overcome Martin Klizan, winning 4-6, 6-3, 7-5. The top-ranked Slovak had the better start breaking Troicki’s service two times to gain the opening set. The 29-year-old Serbian broke in the eighth game of the second set to close the frame in the following, taking the match the distance. In a thrilling third set with a couple of spectacular rallies, it was Troicki who benefited from an unforced error from Klizan in 11th game to eventually serve the encounter out. The match lasted two hours and 33 minutes.
“I think it was a horrible match, maybe exciting but the quality level was really bad, especially in the first set. I do not know what was happening from both sides. It was strange. Then I tried to focus a bit more but I could not get used to his leftie hitters. He uses a lot of spin and I was not getting any rhythm in the entire match. I was fighting and just tried to survive,” Troicki analyzed the match and hopes that he will improve on Sunday.
“I hope I cannot play two bad matches in a row. For both of us it will be our second final of the season, so it is not going to be easy. Roberto has a lot of confidence and is playing good tennis with clean shots. It is a nice final with the number one and number two seed. I am looking forward to it but I need to recover, as I had a long match today and lost a lot of energy. But I think I will be ready for this,” the Serbian is confident.