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Fabio Fognini vs Roberto Bautista Agut Swiss Open Gstaad tennis live: Can consistent Bautista Agut get a rare win over Fognini?

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 28 Jul 2017
  • World no. 18 Roberto Bautista Agut faces Italy's Fabio Fognini in the Swiss Open Gstaad semifinals on Saturday
  • Bautista Agut vs Fognini Swiss Open tennis is live from Gstaad on Saturday at 3pm local/2pm BST
Roberto Bautista Agut

Second seed Roberto Bautista Agut must overcome a losing record against Fabio Fognini as the two face off for a place in the Swiss Open Gstaad final on Saturday. 

In a classic duel of contrasting styles, the consistent Roberto Bautista Agut takes on the erratic but dangerous Fabio Fognini for a place in the final of the J. Safra Sarasin Swiss Open Gstaad. 

World no. 31 Fognini is looking for his first title since breezing through a depleted Umag field just over a year ago for the fourth ATP World Tour trophy of his career. All four have come on clay, as have six of his eight ATP World Tour runner-up finishes, and although Fognini is dangerous on all surfaces – witness his classic defeat of Rafael Nadal from two sets down at the US Open in 2015 – it is on clay that he comes to life, more often than anywhere else, and on clay that his languid, deceptively lethal game really shines. 

Ranked as high as world no. 13 in March 2014 after winning Vina del Mar and finishing runner-up to David Ferrer in Buenos Aires, Fognini has slipped down the rankings since then – a slide in which both injury and inconsistency have played their parts. Starting this year down at world no. 47, the Italian stopped his slide with a run at the Miami Masters in March, benefiting from a soft draw to make the semifinals after beating Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-2. With the exception of a victory over world no. 1 Andy Murray at the Rome Masters, however, Fognini made little impression on the clay-court season leading up to the French Open, where he lost to Stan Wawrinka in the third round in straight sets.

After losing to Murray in four sets in the third round of Wimbledon, Fognini’s decision to head back to clay was unsurprising, but the Italian fell foul of lucky loser Andrey Rublev – who would go on to win the title – in the quarterfinals of the Croatia Open last week. Playing Gstaad for the first time since losing in qualifying a decade ago, Fognini had to come back from a set down against Norbert Gombos in the second round before facing a very tough match against former French Open semifinalist Ernests Gulbis, rebuilding his career after a period of prolonged injury. Fognini and Gulbis split the first two sets before the Latvian’s first-serve percentage started to plummet in the third and the Italian finished strong for a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 victory, booking himself a place in what is bizarrely his first clay-court semifinal of the year. 

With top seed David Goffin suffering a shock defeat to Robin Haase on Friday, it looks pretty likely that the eventual champion of the Swiss Open Gstaad will come from the semifinal clash between third seed Fognini and top seed Roberto Bautista Agut. 

Bautista Agut has had a highly undramatic progress through the Gstaad draw, unlike Fognini, opening with a 6-4, 6-3 win over qualifier Gleb Sakharov before beating Denis Istomin by an identical scoreline in Friday’s quarterfinals, losing only six points behind his first serve during the 80-minute match.

‘Today, the conditions were a bit faster than the other days and Denis played aggressively,’ Bautista Agut said afterwards. ‘I will prepare and rest well for tomorrow.’

World no. 18 Bautista Agut shares a career-high ranking of world no. 13 with Fognini but doesn’t have the same clay-court specialization as the Italian; only one of Bautista Agut’s five ATP World Tour career titles came on clay, in Stuttgart in 2014, and none of his six runner-up finishes, including the peak of his career, finishing runner-up to Andy Murray at the Shanghai Masters last autumn.

Bautista Agut collected the fifth title of his career at the Chennai Open in January and went on to make the fourth round of the Australian Open and the semifinals in Sofia before being stopped in a tight three-set match by David Goffin. The Spanish player’s Indian Wells campaign ended in a walkover and he didn’t make much impression at Miami or for much of the clay-court season, although he did make the semifinals of the 250 event in Munich before losing 5-7, 5-7 to Alexander Zverev. 

Bautista Agut made the round of 16 at the French Open and proved once again that his game translates fairly well to most surfaces with a solid grass-court season, making the quarterfinals of the Gerry Weber Open in Halle and then beating Kei Nishikori to reach the round of 16 at Wimbledon where he fell to eventual runner-up Marin Cilic. Given that he isn’t an obvious clay specialist, it’s somewhat surprising to see Bautista Agut return to clay post-Wimbledon; however, the mostly accurate description of Bautista Agut as a good all-rounder who struggles to challenge the very best suggests the Spanish player is smart to try to gobble up points and prize money at an event where he won’t run into them. 

Fognini in the semifinals could be quite enough for Bautista Agut to handle, however. The Italian player has a 5-2 record against the world no. 18, winning two of their three clay-court matches, although Bautista Agut did win the most recent they played, which also happened to be a clay-court match – a 6-3, 6-4 victory for the Spaniard on his way to the Stuttgart title in 2014. There’s been some water under the bridge since then for most men, but while Bautista Agut has played well for so much of the season, Fognini has the more obviously explosive, attacking game on these clay courts – if the Italian is in the mood to play like that, he should be on his way into his first final of 2017 in Gstaad on Saturday. 

Fognini vs Bautista Agut is scheduled on Roy Emerson Arena in Gstaad on Saturday at 3pm local/2pm BST

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Fabio Fognini vs Roberto Bautista Agut Swiss Open Gstaad tennis live: Can consistent Bautista Agut get a rare win over Fognini?

World no. 18 Roberto Bautista Agut faces mercurial Italian Fabio Fognini in an intriguing ATP Gstaad semifinal on Roy Emerson Arena: Swiss Open tennis live from Gstaad

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