Vasek Pospisil added a second upset to his US Open tally on Saturday, recovering from two-sets-to-one down to shock Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5, 2-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 on Louis Armstrong Stadium.
The World No. 94 struck 70 winners and came to the net on 45 occasions to break through Bautista Agut’s defence and reach the Round of 16 in New York for the first time. The victory comes five years after Pospisil’s maiden run to the fourth round at a major championship, when he advanced to the 2015 Wimbledon quarter-finals.
“[I am] thrilled. I was playing great tennis all the way through,” said Pospisil. “I had a little bit of a physical dip in the second and third sets and then the shade came in, which really helped me… I played solid all the way through. I was very relaxed, going for my shots and sticking to my game plan, my strengths. It worked out really well.”
Pospisil has now defeated two of the most in-form players since the resumption of the ATP Tour on Louis Armstrong Stadium. Two days ago, the 30-year-old came from a set down to defeat Western & Southern Open runner up Milos Raonic in four sets.
“I worked really hard and I am just thrilled to be here. Any time you can get wins like this against top players of the sport is huge,” said Pospisil. “To do it on a big stage like this and make the fourth round of a Grand Slam is a really big deal.”
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Pospisil entered his fourth ATP Head2Head match against Bautista Agut without a win to his name, but the Canadian raised his game in the final two sets to overpower his opponent. Pospisil improves to 11-5 this year, building on a strong start to the season prior to the suspension of the ATP Tour in March. More than five years after reaching his maiden ATP Tour final in 2014, Pospisil advanced to his second ATP Tour championship match at the Open Sud de France in February.
Pospisil will face Alex de Minaur for a spot in the quarter-finals. De Minaur also rallied from two-sets-to-one down to overcome 11th seed Karen Khachanov 6-4, 0-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1. The Aussie broke serve on six occasions to book his place in the US Open fourth round for the second straight year after three hours and two minutes.
De Minaur is unbeaten in two ATP Head2Head meetings against Pospisil. The Sydney native claimed hard-court victories against Pospisil in 2018 at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. and the Rolex Shanghai Masters.
“[Alex is] a very tough guy. A very tough opponent, very fit and he can run all day, a bit like Roberto,” said Pospisil. “I will just go out there, play my game and see how it goes.”
After nine games without a break point, Bautista Agut attacked Pospisil’s forehand to survive two set points at 4-5. But the Canadian, who won 10 of 13 net points in the first set, quickly created another opportunity in his next return game. Pospisil ripped his three consecutive forehand winners to break to love at 5-6 and snatch the opening set.
Pospisil survived seven break points in his opening service game of the second set, before Bautista Agut charged back into the match. The nine-time ATP Tour titlist attacked his opponent’s backhand and moved to the net to earn his first break of the match and quickly doubled his advantage en route to the second set.
Bautista Agut made a quick start to the third set, playing with consistency from the back of the court to extract errors in in the opening game. The World No. 11 held his advantage with confidence on serve, winning 87 per cent of points behind his first delivery to move one set from victory.
Pospisil landed 20 winners in the fourth set, including a backhand return winner at 4-3, to force a decider and charge to the finish line. The Canadian moved up the court in crucial moments in the fifth set and showcased composure at the net to gain two service breaks. Serving for the match at 5-2, Pospisil converted his first match point with a pinpoint backhand passing shot up the line.
“On break point in the fourth set, I played aggressive. I played to win… No doubts and no regrets,” said Pospisil. “If you make it, you make it. If you don’t, at least you went for it. That is just the mentality I had all the way through to the end and today it worked out. I played great and I am thrilled to be in the fourth round.”