(Reuters) – A tenacious Roberto Bautista Agut battled back to beat world number one Novak Djokovic 1-6 7-5 6-3 and advance to the quarter-finals of the Miami Open on Tuesday as the Spaniard claimed his second win over the Serb this year.
Six-times champion Djokovic blasted the 22nd seed off the court in the opening set but Bautista Agut grew more aggressive in the second, stepping in to take his second serves early and baiting his opponent into extended rallies.
The tide turned in Bautista Agut’s favor in the third when, after both players exchanged service breaks, an uncharacteristically sloppy Djokovic sent a backhand wide to fall behind 4-2.
Three games later Bautista Agut smacked a forehand winner down the line to seal the win, which was reminiscent of Bautista Agut’s come-from-behind victory over Djokovic in the semi-finals of the Qatar Open in January.
“The key of the match was at the beginning of the second set,” Bautista Agut said after his latest victory. “I played more aggressive.”
The loss capped a disappointing trip through the United States for Djokovic, who fell in straight sets to Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells earlier this month.
The Serb said he would “rethink” how he prepared for the early-season American swing next year.
“I just had way too many things off the court,” he said. “I guess that affected me a little bit on the court.
“I didn’t feel my best health-wise, as well, in Indian Wells and here. You know, still rusty, but, hey, look, you learn that’s life.”
Djokovic was eliminated before an evening rain delay pushed Roger Federer‘s match against Russia’s Daniil Medvedev back to Wednesday.
Next up for Bautista Agut is a quarter-final date with defending champion John Isner, who was a 7-6(5) 7-6(3) winner over Britain’s Kyle Edmund earlier in the day.
KYRGIOS IN CONTROVERSY AGAIN
Nick Kyrgios continued to mix the obscene with the sublime as he bowed out of the tournament at the hands of Borna Coric.
The Australian produced perhaps the shot of the tournament, an audacious ‘tweener’ that caught a flat-footed Coric off guard early in his 4-6 6-3 6-2 loss to the 11th seed.
Kyrgios was later given a point penalty for an audible obscenity, apparently directed at a spectator, that put him down a double break in the third.
Kyrgios said he did not regret having a go at the spectator.
“I’m playing for two hours and 20 minutes, and a guy yells at me, like ‘play some tennis’,” Kyrgios explained.
“I’m not going to take it… Probably not needed, but at that time, when you’re competing and in the heat of the moment, it’s probably not what you want to hear.
“If I swear or something, then I’ll lose the point. That’s why I didn’t argue it. I just walked to my chair.”
Kyrgios has made headlines all week in Miami for his controversial underhanded serves, a verbal spat with another spectator who was heckling him, and for firing off an expletive-laden rant at an umpire during a doubles match.
Up next for Coric will be a clash with 18-year-old Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, who beat Georgian 17th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-6(4) 6-4 to become the first qualifier to reach the last eight in Miami since Guillermo Canas in 2007.
Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov advanced to the quarter-finals with a 4-6 6-3 7-6(3) win over Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas, the tournament’s eighth seed.
In a late night match that lasted over two hours and finished at 1:40 AM local time, Shapovalov claimed only his second career win over an opponent in the top 10 in a ‘Next Gen’ battle.
With compatriot Auger-Aliassime also in the quarters, it is the first time in 12 years that two teenagers have reached this stage of the tournament, after Andy Murray and Djokovic accomplished the feat as 19-year-olds in 2007.
Shapovalov will take on American Frances Tiafoe in the next round.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, Rory Carroll in Los Angeles, Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina and Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis/Nick Mulvenney/Sudipto Ganguly)