September 18, 2019
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Bautista Agut looking to continue strong run of form at US Open

 Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut stretches for a backhand volley during his quarterfinal match against France's Gael Monfils at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament in Montreal, Canada, on Aug. 10, 2019. EPA-EFE/VALERIE BLUM

Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut stretches for a backhand volley during his quarterfinal match against France's Gael Monfils at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament in Montreal, Canada, on Aug. 10, 2019. EPA-EFE/VALERIE BLUM

By Helen Cook

New York, Aug 22 (efe-epa).- Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut, fresh off reaching his maiden Grand Slam semifinal at this summer's Wimbledon and achieving a top 10 ranking for the first time, says he now wants to ride his current wave of form and confidence to a strong showing at the US Open.

"I'm coming here in what could be the best moment of my career - with a lot of victories this year and a good rhythm on hard courts after the whole grass- and clay-court swing, and feeling good," the 31-year-old said in an interview with EFE.

The 10th-ranked Bautista Agut, who is enjoying some of his best results at an age once considered old for a tennis player, said of his rankings milestone that it was the result of a lifetime dedicated to his craft.

"It's a reward for many years of work, a lot of sacrifice. And I hope I can keep moving up in the rankings and be among the world's best for as long as possible," the Spaniard, who turned professional in 2005, said.

The native of the eastern city of Castellon said he is a much better player now than five years ago, when he achieved a top-15 ranking for the first time.

"Sometimes you need to have a couple of good results to reach the top 10, but it's true that I feel that I'm a much better player than six years ago, with more experience, with much more knowledge," Bautista Agut said.

Despite winning five matches at Wimbledon and then reaching the quarterfinals of a pair of US Open tune-up events in Montreal and Cincinnati, Ohio, the Spaniard said he knows he will need to overcome challenging summer conditions in New York to go deep at Flushing Meadows.

"The matches will be tough because the heat and humidity here are an additional opponent ... The weather conditions are extreme," he said.

Although Bautista hopes to advance as far as he can in the tournament, he is well aware that the world's top three - Serbian world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, second-ranked Spaniard Rafael Nadal and third-ranked Swiss Roger Federer, winners of 11 of the past 15 US Opens - are the clear favorites for the title.

"I think they're in good form, confident and in Grand Slam (matches that are best of) five sets they're always the ones to beat," he said.

Bautista squared off against Djokovic in the final four of Wimbledon, but even though he managed to take a set off the eventual champion he is not eager to be placed in the same section of the draw with the Serbian in New York.

"I'd like to face Novak as late as possible. It's clear that if I face him it will be in important rounds," he said, adding that he will not look past any opponent.

Bautista Agut surprised himself with his strong run at Wimbledon, which forced him to change the arrangements for his bachelor party.

"(We tennis players) have very few weekends free each year, and the calendar is very tight. I had set aside that weekend for me, so I could have my bachelor party. And thanks to playing very well at Wimbledon, things got complicated," the world No. 10 said.

"Luckily my friends were able to experience and share with me one of my best experiences as an athlete, which was that semifinal at Wimbledon on center court against Djokovic," Bautista Agut, who will be marrying girlfriend Ana Bodi Tortosa in November, said.

His initial plan for that weekend was to enjoy a few days of rest with his close friends on the Spanish Mediterranean island of Ibiza.

The holiday that followed his loss to Djokovic had to be shortened to just a day and a half, Bautista Agut said, recalling that "everyone had to go back to work."

"So far we haven't had time" to organize another one, he added. EFE-EPA


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