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Bautista-Agut vs Ebden ATP Sofia Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Former champion, Bautista-Agut begins Sofia campaign against Ebden

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 5 Feb 2019
  • Roberto Bautista-Agut vs Matthew Ebden is live from Sofia on Wednesday, 6 February from 6:00pm local time/ 4:00pm GMT
  • Bautista-Agut won their only previous meeting in s-Hertogenbosch in 2014
  • In-form Bautista-Agut is 9-1 in 2019
Roberto Bautista Agut. (Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Looking to continue his excellent start to the season, fourth seed, Roberto Bautista-Agut begins his Sofia Open campaign on Wednesday when he takes on Australia's Matthew Ebden. 

Bautista-Agut is 9-1 in 2019, having claimed the Doha title in the opening week of the year, and reached his first Grand Slam quarter final at the Australian Open. The Spaniard has not just been racking up the numbers this year, he has been doing it in style, taking down a number of high qualify opposition in his January surge. He defeated three-time major winner, Stan Wawrinka, world No. 1, Novak Djokovic and a resurgent Tomas Berdych in Doha, and then took out Andy Murray, John Millman, Karen Khachanov and Marin Cilic at the Australian Open before falling to Greek sensation, Stefanos Tsitsipas in the last eight.

In typical Bautista-Agut style, his Australian Open run was full of grit and grind, as he required five sets to get past Murray, Millman and Cilic; and that tedious route took its toll on him in his quarter final against Tsitsipas, as he struggled physically towards the latter part of the four-set contest. That is of course, not taking anything away from the excellence of Tsitsipas.

Rested and refreshed, the Spaniard is ready to go again in Sofia this week. He won the inaugural Sofia Open in 2016, beating Viktor Troicki in the final, while he made the semi-finals in the following year. The 30-year-old missed last season's edition, but he returns in 2019 in arguably the form of his life, and one of the heavy favourites to claim the title. He has been one of the most consistent performers on the tour in the last few seasons, claiming two titles in each of the last three seasons to take his overall tally to nine. He did his title-winning business early last year, winning in Auckland and Dubai, and while he could not find that level for the remainder of the year, he still made a final in Gstaad, and a couple of semi-finals St. Petersburg and Halle. He wasn't helped by an abdominal injury that bothered him in the lead up to the US Open. 

Bautista-Agut ended last season at 24th in the world, but the former world No. 13 has quickly regained his top-20 status this year, checking into Sofia at 18th in the world- and he will aim to go higher with a strong week in Sofia, starting off with a second-round meeting with Australian, Ebden on Wednesday.

Matthew Ebden. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Unlike Bautista-Agut, Ebden didn't get a first round bye in Sofia, and he had to survive a tough examination from local wildcard, Adrian Andreev to book Wednesday's second round meeting. The world No. 45 fought back from 2-4 down in the final set tie break to record a 6-3 4-6 7-6 victory in two hours and 20 minutes.

That was only his second win of the season, with his previous triumph coming at the Australian Open, where he defeated Jan-Lennard Struff in the first round before falling to Rafael Nadal.

Ebden had opened his season at the Hopman Cup in Perth, beating Lucas Pouille and losing to David Ferrer and Alexander Zverev in his singles matches as Australia failed to get beyond the round-robin phase in the exhibition team event. The 31year-old then headed to Sydney, where he lost in three sets to Argentine, Guido Andreozzi in his first official match of the season before moving on to Melbourne for the first Grand Slam of the year.

After dropping as low as 699th in the world at the start of 2017 due to his injury problems, Ebden enjoyed his best season in 2018, breaking into the top 50 for the first time in his career. His stand-out results last year were semi-finals in s-Hertogenbosch and Atlanta, and quarter finals in Shanghai, Halle and Chengdu. The Australian also reached the third round at Wimbledon, his best Grand Slam performance. 

The world No. 45 is in Sofia for the first time since 2016, when he lost in the opening round to Thiemo de Bakker. After breaking his Sofia duck by beating Andreev on Tuesday, can he secure back-to-back wins for the first time in the tournament, and for the first time this season when he plays Bautista-Agut on Wednesday?

Bautista-Agut holds the 1-0 edge in their head-to-head, after winning their only previous encounter in s-Hertogenbosch in 2014, and the Spaniard looks set to double that advantage when they meet again on Wednesday. Both men are renowned for their battling qualities, but Bautista-Agut does it better than a lot of players on the tour, and has taken it to an even higher level this season. It could turn into a hard-fought contest, but Bautista-Agut should out-battle Ebden to score his tenth win of the season, and with it, move into the last eight in Sofia.

Roberto Bautista-Agut vs Matthew Ebden is live from Sofia on Wednesday, 6 February from 6:00pm local time/ 4:00pm GMT

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Bautista-Agut vs Ebden ATP Sofia Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Former champion, Bautista-Agut begins Sofia campaign against Ebden

Roberto Bautista-Agut aims to continue his fine start to the season in Sofia, where he opens against Matt Ebden. Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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