The World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev was frequently pressured by Roberto Bautista Agut in the pair’s quarter-final clash on Thursday, but Medvedev was clinical in taking his chances on his way to a 6-2, 6-4 victory at the ATP 500 event.
The Medvedev serve once again proved a crucial weapon at key moments in the one-hour, 27-minute encounter on OWL Arena. A combination of power and accuracy with his delivery helped the top seed save all nine break points he faced against the Spaniard. He has fended off all 17 break points he has confronted this week.
The win was Medvedev’s first against the Spaniard in four attempts. Bautista Agut was making his fourth quarter-final appearance in Halle and produced some high-class tennis as he bid to match his semi-final run from 2018, yet he was unable to convert his break point chances as Medvedev sent down a barrage of big serves to frequently dig himself out of trouble.
“Well first of all, he’s a great player,” said Medvedev when asked about his past struggles against Bautista Agut. “I remember all the matches we had… He was playing some [great] tennis and it was tough for me to win. Today I had my plan, managed to keep it going. Definitely got more edge on the most important points, because he had more break points than me. It was not easy, and I’m happy to win.”
A high-quality start saw both players fend off a break point to hold in the early stages, but from 2-2 it was Medvedev who stepped up to take command. The World No. 1 reeled off four consecutive game to take the first set, striking the ball effectively off both wings to accumulate 14 winners to Bautista Agut’s four.
Despite the disappointment of falling behind, the Spaniard appeared rejuvenated in the second set. He surged to 15/40 on the Medvedev serve in the second game with some top-quality all-court play, but could not find the finishing touch. He also missed out after leading 0/40 in the eighth game and was made to pay by the World No. 1, who converted his sole break point of the set at 3-3 to claim a decisive break.
Medvedev will now chase a 25th tour-level championship match appearance in a semi-final clash against Oscar Otte, after the home favourite earlier defeated eighth seed Karen Khachanov, 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4.
Otte is making his tournament debut in Halle, and the 28-year-old is currently projected to rise to No. 36 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings thanks to his run to the final four. Victory in Saturday’s semi-final will push him even higher to No. 31, and Medvedev is expecting a tough test from the German.
“I know that he’s a great player, especially on grass and he plays very good on clay also,” said Medvedev. “He made the semis [in Stuttgart] last week, losing to Matteo [Berrettini] in two tie-breakers. So he’s a great player, great serve, great volleyer- So it’s not going to be easy. I need to prepare well, show my best tennis and try to win.
“We’ve warmed up twice [together] and practised once [this week], even playing a set which ended in a tie-break. So we’ve started to know each other better and better, so it’s actually fun that we are playing each other tomorrow, because when you practise with one player a lot, it’s fun to see him in the tournament later in the week. But tomorrow we are definitely not going to be friends!”