Two-time winner Roberto Bautista Agut was eliminated in the first round of the ASB Classic on Tuesday, losing 6-4, 6-3 to fellow Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena. Bautista Agut won the Auckland title in 2016, defeating John Isner and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in early sets. Agut repeated the feat in 2018 by defeating Juan Martin del Potro in the final.
He missed a significant portion of the 2023 season after being wounded in a horseback riding mishap in July. He returned in October, reaching the final of the Valencia Open in November and the quarterfinals of the Hong Kong Open this week. Bautista Agut appeared rusty at the start of his match against his friend and training partner on Tuesday. Also read: United Cup Tennis 2024: Alexander Zverev Zverev comeback secures germany’s triumph
He dropped serve in the first game and again to trail 4-1, appearing sluggish and out of touch. But he came back in the seventh game, holding serve nine times and saving six break points. As he ran to chase down a wild overhead shot by Bautista Agut late in that game, Carballes Baena collided with vacant courtside seating.
Bautista Agut maintained serve and then broke Carballes Baena to tie the match, but Carballes Baena served out the set in the next game. Agut broke in the second set’s second game, but Carballes Baena broke back to take a 3-2 lead.
In his second service game, he was under intense pressure, losing four straight points after leading 40-0. He rebounded and won the game, and he went on to win the match in 1 hour and 43 minutes. Also read: Wimbledon’s Grand Vision: A New Stadium and 38 Courts
“It’s always tough playing against Robert, he’s a really good friend and we practice together and it was really difficult,” Carballes Baena said. “But I think I did a great match. I was really aggressive and serving really well.”
Former No. 10 Denis Shapovalov also lost in the first round in his first competitive match since suffering a major knee injury in the fourth round of Wimbledon in July. He was defeated 6-4, 6-2 by in-form Austrian Sebastian Ofner, who reached the Hong Kong quarterfinals last week.
“He was still a bit struggling which was good for me but it’s good to see him back and healthy,” Ofner said. Also read: Grigor Dimitrov Net Worth 2024, Career, Prize Money, Endorsements, Cars, Houses, Properties, Etc.