Arguably the most compelling match-up taking place on the entire ATP World Tour on Saturday afternoon is the one between Ernests Gulbis and Roberto Bautista Agut at the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. This marks the fourth time that these two athletes will meet on the professional circuit, and the third time this season alone. Gulbis leads the head-to-head series 3-0.
Gulbis reached the semi-final stage of the tournament with a 7-6(6), 4-6, 7-6(3) victory over Andreas Seppi. He struck 17 aces en route to the 88-minute victory. After struggling with a recent shoulder injury, this is the Latvian’s best tournament showing in months.
“It was tough in the third set because [Andreas] felt the rhythm of the returns and he was returning a lot,” said Gulbis. “I thought it would be tough to serve. When the balls are already used it’s getting more difficult to get easy points on your serve. In the tie-break I just added more speed and forgot about my shoulder. I just decided to play through pain. I had some good rallies. I played more aggressively and I managed to win.”
Next for Gulbis is a meeting with Roberto Bautista Agut, who had a relatively smooth path to the final four, defeating Ricardas Berankis 7-5, 6-3. It was a strong victory for the Spaniard, as the Berankis was coming off an upset win over Milos Raonic.
“It was not easy to win today because he had a good win in the last round,” said Bautista Agut. “I had to do everything well to win. I served pretty well during the whole match. I tried to stay solid and not make mistakes. In the close moments, he made some mistakes and that helped me a lot to win. I’m confident and feel like I’m playing well. I’ll give everything I’ve got tomorrow and try to play at the same level.”
This marks the fifth time that Gulbis and Bautista Agut will meet on the ATP World Tour, with the Latvian leading the series 3-0. The Spanird is yet to earn his first win over Gulbis and will be hard-pressed to accomplish that on Saturday.
Prediction: Ernests Gulbis in Three Sets