A tenacious Roberto Bautista Agut battled back to beat world number one Novak Djokovic 1-6 7-5 6-3 and advance to the quarter-finals of the Miami Open on Tuesday as the Spaniard claimed his second win over the Serb this year.
Six-times champion Djokovic blasted the 22nd seed off the court in the opening set but Bautista Agut grew more aggressive in the second, stepping in to take his second serves early and baiting his opponent into extended rallies.
The tide turned in Bautista Agut’s favour in the third when, after both players exchanged service breaks, an uncharacteristically sloppy Djokovic sent a backhand wide to fall behind 4-2.
Three games later Bautista Agut smacked a forehand winner down the line to seal the win, which was reminiscent of Bautista Agut’s come-from-behind victory over Djokovic in the semi-finals of the Qatar Open in January.
“The key of the match was at the beginning of the second set,” Bautista Agut said after his latest victory. “I played more aggressive.”
The loss capped a disappointing trip through the United States for Djokovic, who fell in straight sets to Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells earlier this month.
The Serb said he would “rethink” how he prepared for the early-season American swing next year.
“I just had way too many things off the court,” he said. “I guess that affected me a little bit on the court.
“I didn’t feel my best health-wise, as well, in Indian Wells and here. You know, still rusty, but, hey, look, you learn that’s life.”
Djokovic was eliminated before an evening rain delay pushed Roger Federer’s match against Russia’s Daniil Medvedev back to Wednesday.
Next up for Bautista Agut is a quarter-final date with defending champion John Isner, who was a 7-6(5) 7-6(3) winner over Britain’s Kyle Edmund earlier in the day.
KYRGIOS IN CONTROVERSY AGAIN
Nick Kyrgios continued to mix the obscene with the sublime as he bowed out of the tournament at the hands of Borna Coric.
The Australian produced perhaps the shot of the tournament, an audacious ‘tweener’ that caught a flat-footed Coric off guard early in his 4-6 6-3 6-2 loss to the 11th seed.
A no-look volley and a casually worked tweener from Nick Kyrgios.
— Yemiojo Samuel (@yemmmyojo) 26 March 2019
Kyrgios was later given a point penalty for an audible obscenity, apparently directed at a spectator, that put him down a double break in the third.
Kyrgios said he did not regret having a go at the spectator.
“I’m playing for two hours and 20 minutes, and a guy yells at me, like ‘play some tennis’,” Kyrgios explained.
“I’m not going to take it… Probably not needed, but at that time, when you’re competing and in the heat of the moment, it’s probably not what you want to hear.
“If I swear or something, then I’ll lose the point. That’s why I didn’t argue it. I just walked to my chair.”
Kyrgios has made headlines all week in Miami for his controversial underhanded serves, a verbal spat with another spectator who was heckling him, and for firing off an expletive-laden rant at an umpire during a doubles match.
Up next for Coric will be a clash with 18-year-old Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, who beat Georgian 17th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-6(4) 6-4 to become the first qualifier to reach the last eight in Miami since Guillermo Canas in 2007.
Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov advanced to the quarter-finals with a 4-6 6-3 7-6(3) win over Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas, the tournament’s eighth seed.
In a late night match that lasted over two hours and finished at 1:40 AM local time, Shapovalov claimed only his second career win over an opponent in the top 10 in a ‘Next Gen’ battle.
With compatriot Auger-Aliassime also in the quarters, it is the first time in 12 years that two teenagers have reached this stage of the tournament, after Andy Murray and Djokovic accomplished the feat as 19-year-olds in 2007.
Shapovalov will take on American Frances Tiafoe in the next round.
Kontaveit ends giant killer Hsieh’s Miami run
Anett Kontaveit brought Taiwan giant killer Hsieh Su-wei’s Miami Open run to a dramatic end with a 3-6 6-2 7-5 comeback win on Tuesday to become the first player through to the semi-finals.
For a place in the final she will face Ashleigh Barty, after the Australian beat Petra Kvitova 7-6(6) 3-6 6-2 in a night match that stretched into the wee hours of Wednesday morning following a long rain delay.
The 33-year-old Hsieh, having beaten Japan’s world number one Naomi Osaka in the third round and 13th seed Caroline Wozniacki in the fourth, looked poised to add the 21st-seeded Estonian to her list by racing to a 4-0 lead in the third set.
But Kontaveit, 10 years her junior, took a page from the Taiwanese player’s own book and dug in.
“I was so close to being out of there so many times,” Kontaveit told reporters. “I just tried to keep fighting and trying to stay in there and try and still be aggressive somehow.
“I was trying to think more about what I have to do than about the score.”
In her third round win over Osaka, 27th seed Hsieh rallied from a set and break down but this time the tables were turned.
Kontaveit bravely battled back to get on level terms and, with Hsieh serving at 6-5 to force a tiebreak, moved in for the kill, breaking the tiring Taiwanese to clinch a stirring win.
“Today probably wasn’t the best match that I have ever played but I’m so happy to be through that,” said Kontaveit. “I feel like I fought really well and I never gave up.
“I’m really, really happy with the improvements I’m making and being more positive with myself, whatever the score is, and all these little things that are getting better.”
The Estonian’s road to the final will go through 12th seed Barty, who emerged from a nearly three-hour battle of attrition with Czech third seed Kvitova.
Kvitova trailed 3-0 in the deciding set but roared back, breaking Barty to get back on serve.
But the Australian steadied and closed it out for her first career win in five attempts against Kvitova, who double-faulted on match point, sending a tame serve into the net.
The match came only hours after a man who stabbed Kvitova in her home was sentenced in a Czech regional court.
Kvitova suffered severe wounds to her left playing hand as she struggled with the intruder, identified by the court as Radim Zondra, in her flat during the attack in December 2016.