Roberto Bautista-Agut faces a tricky start to his Rotterdam campaign on Monday when he takes on Hungarian, Marton Fucsovics.
Bautista-Agut vs Fucsovics is live from Rotterdam on Monday from 2:30pm local time/ 1:30pm GMT
Bautista-Agut is playing his first match since the Australian Open, where he was beaten by Marin Cilic in the third round.
Defeat to Cilic ended Bautista-Agut’s perfect start to the year, as he had won all of his six matches at the season-opening ATP Cup. Yes, he benefited from a very accommodating list of opponents, but the Spaniard went about his business with characteristic efficiency to propel Spain to a runner-up finish.
Bautista-Agut is now genuinely considered amongst the very best players in the world. He is currently outside the top-ten, mainly because of his inability to defend quarter final points at the Australian Open, but he spent some time in that top bracket during a very successful 2019.
The 31-year-old set the tone for the rest of the year with a fantastic title run in the opening week of the year in Doha, beating Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka along the way. That turned out to be his only title in 2019, but a consistent campaign featured a maiden Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon, and notable quarter finals at the Australian Open, Miami, Montreal, Cincinnati, Halle and Basel.
He built up some early momentum in 2020 with a perfect run at the ATP Cup, but he ran into a tough draw at the Australian Open, where he faced, and lost to Cilic in the third round. He returns to Rotterdam for the first time since 2016, and will be keen to get back to winning ways when he squares off against Fucsovics on Monday.
Given the start he’s made to the season, Fucsovics might consider himself slightly unfortunate to have had play the qualifiers to get into the main draw, but such is the quality of the Rotterdam field, with seven out of the top 15 players in the world all present.
The Hungarian started his year with a quarter final run in Doha, beating Frances Tiafoe and Cem Ilkel before falling to Miomir Kecmanovic. He retired in the opening round of his next event in Bendigo- a Challenger event- but he rebounded with a fine fourth round run at the Australian Open.
The 28-year-old took out Jannik Sinner, Denis Shapovalov and Tommy Paul to reach the Round of 16 in Melbourne for the second time in three years, but as was the case in 2018, his run was terminated by Roger Federer.
Fucsovics is currently ranked 53rd in the world, but he has been as high as 31st, a ranking he attained in March last year, following a decent run of results that included a runner-up finish in Sofia, and quarter finals in Rotterdam and Dubai. He could not sustain that form through the rest of the season, making just two more quarter finals in Munich and Stuttgart, leading to a year-end ranking of 70th.
He’s got that ranking going in the right direction at the start of 2020, and has another chance to gain some ground this week. He passed his qualifying test without any worries, taking out Alexei Popyrin 6-2 6-1, and now he takes aim at Bautista-Agut in the first round of the main draw.
Fucsovics is a very steady performer, and is capable of generating decent, not overwhelming, power. He definitely carries greater firepower than Bautista-Agut, but I’m not sure he has enough to outhit the Spaniard.
Not many players do “steady” better than Bautista-Agut, which is why the Spaniard is favourite to move past Fucsovics in Rotterdam on Monday.