ATP Tour

Bautista Agut keeps up early season surge

Roberto Bautista Agut (Action Images)
Roberto Bautista Agut (Action Images)

Rotterdam - Roberto Bautista Agut reached his second straight quarter-final and third of the season on Thursday with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 defeat of Jiri Vesely at the Rotterdam World Tennis event.

The sixth seed, who won the Sofia title last week after also triumphing in Auckland in January, claimed his sixth consecutive victory.

The Spaniard had to recover as his Czech opponent seized the momentum by winning the opening set, only to find the tables turning as Bautista Agut hit his stride.

"I'm really pleased with today, I started really badly. Maybe I was tired, I've played a lot of matches this year," said Bautista Agut.

"It took me a while to get into the rhythm. But I got it and started playing very well. I tried to focus on my game, what I could do.

"I hit the ball harder and played with more intensity, that's what changed the match. I want to recover and use all of my energy in the quarter-finals."

Bautista Agut advanced on his third match point when he fired an untouchable return at the feet of Vesely.

The world number 17 will next play the winner from Cypriot crowd-pleaser Marcos Baghdatis and Slovak Martin Klizan.

French qualifier Nicolas Mahut defeated compatriot Jeremy Chardy 7-5, 6-2 to advance.

The 34-year-old, who has played four matches this week at the Ahoy stadium, will be competing in his second quarter-final of the season after advancing into the top eight last month in Sydney, where he lost to Serb Viktor Troicki.

A repeat of that match will be played on Friday after eighth seed Troicki put out South Korea's Hyeon Chung 7-6 (7/5), 6-2.

The Serb, who turned 30 on Wednesday after playing the weekend Sofia final against Bautista Agut, tamed the 19-year-old tipped as a possible future breakout player.

Troicki advanced with seven aces in 90 minutes.

"He was a very tricky opponent," the winner said. "He's a young player, I didn't know what to expect.

"I had to play my best to beat him. But I kept focus when I was down, I kept fighting and playing good tennis, I'm pleased to be through.

"I have good memories here," the semi-finalist of five years ago said. "I'm feeling very good with my game, I had a good start to the season. I hope to continue."

Mahut, the ATP number 54, had not defeated Chardy in any of their three previous meetings.

Mahut advanced in just under 90 minutes, overcoming nine Chardy aces and saving all of the seven break points he faced.

The Frenchman has a winning history in the Netherlands, claiming the Rosmalen summer grasscourt event in 2013 and 2015.

"I'm happy with this win," Mahut, now 5-4 on the season, said. "I was fortunate to win it in two sets.

"I had so many opportunities but he was serving too well. I had one more chance at set point in the first and I took it. I had a good rhythm, I'm pleased with this one."

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