Bautista Agut, Lajovic Keep Positive Momentum Going In Gstaad
Top seed and 2018 finalist Roberto Bautista Agut held off the leader of the next wave of Spanish tennis players, Jaume Munar, on Thursday at the J. Safra Sarasin Swiss Open Gstaad. Bautista Agut saved two of his three break points and overcame the 21-year-old Munar 7-6(6), 6-4 during the second FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting between the two Spaniards (2-0).
"It's never easy to play the first match here on clay, especially with the altitude. I'm happy to win the match in two sets. Jaume is a really good player. He likes to play in these conditions, and he was a tough opponent today," Bautista Agut said. "He is very young, and he has a great future coming up."
Munar competed at the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals among the world's best 21-and-under players and reached the semi-finals in Milan. Bautista Agut, who is playing in his first ATP Tour tournament since reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals, his first at the Grand Slam level, will next meet fifth seed Joao Sousa of Portugal.
Sousa notched a steady 6-4, 6-4 win against qualifier Gian Marco Moroni of Italy, saving both break points faced in the second set. Before Wimbledon, Sousa hadn't won two tour-level matches in a row since the Miami Open presented by Itau in March. But the 30-year-old made the fourth round at SW19, the quarter-finals at the Swedish Open in Bastad last week and is into his second quarter-final of the season in Gstaad.
It may have lasted one hour longer than he’d hoped, but Dusan Lajovic let out a big sigh of relief on after he extended his winning streak to six matches. The Serbian beat Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-6(2) over two hours and 23 minutes, but last week’s Plava Laguna Croatian Open Umag champion endured several momentum shifts for his 18th victory of a career-best season.
Lajovic led by a set and 5-1, and held a match point opportunity on his serve at 5-3, when a deep backhand return from Istomin caught the third seed off guard. Lajovic later recovered from 3-5 down in the decider, but failed to convert two more match points at 6-5 courtesy of a solid serve and backhand volley winner from Istomin. The 29-year-old eventually closed out with a volley winner and turned to his team, shaking his head, in relief.
“It was very tough,” said Lajovic. “I have everything under control and then everything changed. He started putting more balls into the court, putting pressure on me and I got really tight. I was unable to win the second set and at the end, he was the better player and should have won, but I managed to turn it around and in the tie-break I was lucky. I’m happy that I won somehow and I will try to recover for tomorrow.”
Last week, Lajovic lifted his first ATP Tour trophy in Umag (d. Balazs), three months on from reaching the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters final (l. to Fognini). He will now look to sufficiently recover to play seventh-seeded Spaniard Pablo Andujar, the 2014 champion, on Friday. Andujar also battled back in the third set, from 1-3 down, to beat Taro Daniel of Japan 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(2) in two hours and 21 minutes.