19 Jan 2014

Bautista Agut, Robert tread new ground in Melbourne

News Article

Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)

Roberto Bautista Agut and Stephane Robert continued their confident strides through unchartered territory at the Australian Open after the unheralded duo joined Florian Mayer as the only unseeded men to reach the round of 16 in considerably cooler conditions at Melbourne Park.

Bautista Agut, who had already pulled off arguably the shock of the tournament by defeating Juan Martin del Potro in the 2nd round, brushed aside another seed on Saturday in the form of No. 27 Benoit Paire.

“I feel comfortable on these courts. They’re good for my game,” said the Spaniard, a statement that was more than evident in his 62 61 64 victory. Next up for Bautista Agut is a round of 16 clash with Grigor Dimitrov, who reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time after edging past Milos Raonic in a lengthy fourth set tiebreak, 63 36 64 76(10).

“I think it's a great steppingstone for me to get into that second week that I keep talking about, but I have practiced a lot. I have done a lot of homework.  So, to me, in a way it's a bit expected,” said Dimitrov.

Either Bautista Agut or Dimitrov will be on track for a quarterfinal clash with Rafael Nadal, should the world No. 1 overcome the test of Kei Nishikori on Monday. The Spaniard was ruthless in a 61 62 63 victory over Gael Monfils in the night match on Rod Laver Arena.

“For me, I would say his performance was one of the best I have seen for a while,” said Monfils.

Nadal, for one, was very happy with his display.

“Tonight I think I played a great match,” he said. “Very happy the way that I played against a very tough opponent like Gaël.”

Andy Murray and Roger Federer were equally assured in their path to the fourth round, defeating Feliciano Lopez 76(2) 64 62 and Teymuraz Gabashvili 62 62 63 respectively.

Like Murray, Federer has not dropped a set en route to the fourth round in Melbourne. A testament to his assuredness in the early stages at the majors – it is the 27th time he has achieved the feat at a Grand Slam.

Murray was similarly impressive on Saturday, improving to an 8-0 career win-loss record against Lopez to set up a meeting with Robert, the first lucky loser every to reach the round of 16 at the Australian Open after he defeated fellow lucky loser Martin Klizan.

 “It's obviously a big achievement,” said Murray of Robert’s efforts. “I know him a little bit when I was coming through the futures and challengers.  Playing in Europe and in the UK, I've seen him play a little bit then. Obviously quite a while ago now.

“But, you know, it's good to see [him in the fourth round]. He's obviously 33 years old.  Could be easy to stop playing, you know, if you're not in the top hundred or necessarily making a great living.

“But it does show if you stick at it, you're professional, when your chance comes, you take it, you can do great things. Great for him. Good for tennis as well.”

In the women’s draw, Victoria Azarenka and Maria Sharapova made comfortable progress with wins against Yvonne Meusberger and Alize Cornet respectively, while Spaniard Garbine Murguruza fought through the nerves to fend off Caroline Wozniacki 46 75 63 in a breakthrough Grand Slam performance.

"I was really nervous, it was the third round of a Grand Slam and against a great player," said the 20-year-old, who won her first WTA title earlier this month at the Hobart International. "I was only thinking about being aggressive and not being scared."