Roberto Bautista Agut got off to a quick start to his season, winning his first eight matches of the year, including all six of his contests at the ATP Cup.
The COVID-19 pandemic slowed his momentum, suspending ATP Tour events beginning in March. However, with play resuming at this week’s Western & Southern Open, the Spaniard hasn’t skipped a beat. Bautista Agut rallied past Karen Khachanov on Tuesday 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals.
Before the ATP Masters 1000 event, the World No. 12 revealed five keys he believed could make a difference for players in the return to competition.
“This is the starting point and the most obvious factor. The player who has been able to prepare better than the rest can stand out on the return to competition. I suppose all the players will have been preparing as hard as possible, according to the limitations of their individual situation during this time. They will all have done the best they can to come back to competition as ready as possible.”
“Not all players need the same match time to feel good. Some of them need rhythm, to spend time on court, to find their best tennis, but others don’t need to play tournaments, they come flying out of the blocks. They are able to get back to their best tennis just by preparing well at home. This could be one of the keys upon their return; how each of them adapts to the rhythm of competition.”
“If things don’t all go as well as you hope from the get-go, you have to be patient. It’s important not to be too stressed as the ATP Tour returns. There has been no competition for a long time, the time off the courts has dragged on. For my part, I hope everything goes well, but I’m sure that players will have to be patient after so long without competing.”
“The situation we have been through away from the courts over these months has been complicated. There have been difficult times and I have been involved with various local and national initiatives. But once the matches start and we return to the tournaments, you focus on the game and the competition. Sport has taught me the ability to overcome and I am sure we will come out of this stronger.”
“It’s not as big a factor in tennis as it is in other sports, but it will be one to keep in mind. We’re playing with no fans. We won’t feel the affection of the public that we are used to, but I hope that the stands will be full again soon, which would be a good sign. Us tennis players want to return to competition as soon as possible. Our sport needs to move forward and not be left behind by others such as the NBA and football. It’s time to try and do that again.”
Did You Know?
Bautista Agut is just two wins away from 300 on the ATP Tour. The Spaniard’s tour-level record is 298-175. He ranks 18th on his country’s list of players with the most wins in the Open Era.