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Tennis In A Bubble In NYC • Ricky’s Preview And Pick For The Cincinnati Semifinals: Djokovic vs. Bautista Agut

By Ricky Dimon

There will be no highly-anticipated semifinal showdown between Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev at the Western & Southern Open. Nonetheless, Djokovic will be going up against an opponent who has given him just as many problems.

That would be Roberto Bautista Agut, who withstood an early-match charge by Daniil Medvedev to defeat the defending champion 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Wednesday afternoon. Now the Spaniard gets another shot at Djokovic, against whom he is 3-8 lifetime and has won their last three hard-court encounters. Last year, Bautista Agut pulled off upsets in both Doha and Miami before Djokovic prevailed 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the Wimbledon semifinals.

The world No. 12 is back in a significant semifinal following victories this week over Richard Gasquet, Karen Khachanov, and Medvedev. He is now 12-3 for the season, which includes a 6-0 record at the inaugural ATP Cup.

Roberto Bautista Agut at the Western and Southern Open at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, 26 August 2020.

“His style of play is just so consistent,” Djokovic praised. “He doesn’t give away much at all. He doesn’t make too many unforced errors. You can always expect him to play at that certain level; he doesn’t drop his level of tennis much at all on any surface. That’s why he’s probably one of the most underrated tennis players that we have in the last five years.

“The match that he played today against Medvedev reminded me of my match against Roberto in Miami last year. I was winning comfortably, had some chances in the second, and then things turned around. But that’s what he does. He slows you down. He kind of wears you down and tries to suffocate you on the court and just wait for his chances, and then he takes it.”

Djokovic has not been on the court long enough for his opponents to wear down this week. The top-ranked Serb punched his ticket to the semis by taking out Ricardas Berankis, Tennys Sandgren, and Jan-Lennard Struff — looking especially impressive in his last two matches. Even on a fast hard court that suits Struff, Djokovic dominated 6-3, 6-1 in one hour and two minutes.

The top seed is now 21-0 this season, a fact Bautista Agut pointed out during his press conference on Wednesday. It is going to take something seriously special to beat him in the bubble, and the underdog will be hard-pressed to come up with it just one day after such a tough struggle against Medvedev.

Pick: Djokovic in 2

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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