LONDON (Reuters) - Roberto Bautista Agut expected to be chilling out in Ibiza this week but his bachelor party has been switched to the All England Club after the Spaniard reached the Wimbledon semi-finals on Wednesday.
The 31-year-old, who is getting married in November, had never got past round four so it seemed safe to plan his trip to the Balearic isle.
Bautista Agut has been ripping it up on the London lawns, however, and instead of focusing on his next cocktail, he is eyeing the biggest match of his career against defending champion Novak Djokovic.
The Spaniard arrived in his first Wimbledon quarter-final as the only man yet to drop a set and although he lost that unblemished record against Argentina’s Guido Pella he was well worth his 7-5 6-4 3-6 6-3 victory.
With twice champion Rafa Nadal beating Sam Querrey in the next match on Court One there are two Spaniards in the men’s semis for the first time and Sunday could be quite a fiesta.
Having beaten Djokovic twice this year, Bautista Agut, one of the steadiest players on Tour, will enter that battle in good heart, and with plenty of support.
“I had planned to be in Ibiza right now. We had everything organised already. My friends, six of them, are all there,” the Castellon native, seeded 23, told reporters.
“Well, it feels better to be here in London. They are coming to London. I think they will fly on Friday.”
Bautista Agut’s 14-year pro career has been steady rather than spectacular and it was three years after his ATP Tour debut in 2009 that he finally cracked the top 100.
Having got into the top 30 five years ago he has been there even since, collecting nine titles, and establishing himself as a player you take liberties with at your peril, as Djokovic found out to his cost in Doha and Miami this year.
It has been a long wait for his first Grand Slam semi-final though. “I did a lot of work during all these years to be a better player, to be every single moment thinking on the improvements,” Bautista Agut, who has one title on grass, said. “Not to try to catch (the big three), but to be closer next to them.”
His game is not typically Spanish, with short economical swings and a flat ball strike but, like Nadal, he is a relentless workhorse, accurate and nimble around the court.
He needed to be against 26th seed Pella who despite having played six hours more to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final proved an obdurate opponent in a high-quality contest.
It was the first Wimbledon quarter-final not featuring a top-20 seed since a Polish duel between Jerzy Janowicz and Lukasz Kubot in 2013 but of the four men’s matches on Wednesday it was arguably the most absorbing.
Bautista Agut dominant early on, breaking in the first game and then having Pella in trouble at 1-3 0-40 only for the Argentine to dig himself out of a hole.
Pella, who scored impressive wins over 2018 runner-up Kevin Anderson and 2016 finalist Milos Raonic, clawed his way back to 4-4 but faltered on serve at 5-5 and Bautista Agut held to love to take the opening set.
Pella looked weary as a limp backhand gifted the Spaniard a decisive break at the start of the second set.
The left-handed Argentine was not finished, though, and hit back with some dazzling tennis to snatch the third set.
However, the business-like Bautista Agut was relentless and jumped ahead in the fourth set before claiming victory when Pella looped a forehand over the baseline.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris