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Tennis: Tennis-Bautista Agut outlasts Hurkacz to guide Spain to ATP Cup final

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Former world number nine Roberto Bautista Agut edged past Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz 7-6(6) 2-6 7-6(5) in a thrilling contest on Friday to fire Spain to their second ATP Cup final in three years.

Spain, who went down to Serbia in the championship match in the inaugural edition of the team event in 2020, will meet either defending champions Russia or Canada in Sunday’s final.

Bautista Agut, 33, came into the match with a 2-0 head-to-head record against world number nine Hurkacz but had to dig deep to earn the victory after a high-quality match that lasted two hours and 44 minutes.

Hurkacz saved five match points, the first of them with an incredible low backhand drop volley that brought the crowd at the Ken Rosewall Arena to their feet.

But Bautista Agut kept putting him under pressure and then sealed the contest and the tie when the 24-year-old found the net with a return.

“It’s a match that I will always remember,” Bautista Agut said on court.

“I think both of us could get the win today. He also really deserved a lot of good things. But this is our game, this is tennis. Today I was the one who got the win. I think I also deserved it. I did a lot of good things on the court.”

Poland were dealt a blow even before they took the court for the semi-finals with Kamil Majchrzak, who won all three of his singles matches at this year’s tournament, ruled out after testing positive for the novel coronavirus.

Jan Zielinski, who had never played a Tour-level singles match before Friday, replaced Majchrzak for the opening singles but he was no match for Pablo Carreno Busta.

Carreno Busta, ranked 20th, was unperturbed by the late change of opponent and gave Spain a rollicking start with a 6-2 6-1 victory in just 53 minutes.

“When you expect to play against one player and at the last moment they change it, (it is tough),” the 2020 U.S. Open semi-finalist said. “They were unlucky, so sorry about that.

“But I had to do my tennis, my job and I think that I played really good, very focussed on my game. It’s important to always be one up (for the team).”

The former world number 10 is yet to lose a set and is also 4-0 — as is Bautista Agut — at this year’s ATP Cup which featured 16 teams and has $10 million in prize money on offer.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Toby Davis)



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