The final is set for this year’s Shanghai Rolex Masters and it will be second seed Andy Murray taking on 15th seed Roberto Bautista Agut for the prestigious trophy.
Murray, a two-time past champion in Shanghai, is the first player to reach the final here on four occasions.
The semifinal outing wasn’t a breeze for the Scotsman, who had a few struggles in the first set, and even was tested after securing a 4-1 lead in the second set, before posting a 6-4, 6-3 win against Gilles Simon of France.
“It was tough,” Murray said. “Lots of long rallies. And, yeah, I think it was a lot of kind of ups and downs. I was behind on a few of my service games, too. It was a good one to get through in two sets.”
Murray, who now leads Simon 15-2 in matches played, had 30 unforced errors on the night, although he did put up 22 outright winners to counter.
There’s no denying that Murray seems to have good fortune against Frenchman – he’s won 20 consecutive matches against French players since he lost to Simon in the 2015 Rotterdam quarterfinals.
All that said it was Roberto Bautista Agut who cornered the headlines when upsetting world No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-4 in the other captivating semifinal on Saturday.
Roberto Bautista Agut had never beaten Novak Djokovic in five previous matches. In fact, he only won two of 14 sets since their first meeting at the 2013 Dubai tournament.
Saturday’s semifinal would present a new opportunity for the Spaniard – a first career victory over a reigning world No. 1 player.
“I’m so happy I could beat him,” Bautista Agut said. “The first time I remember I played him I thought he was from another planet, and now I think I’m closer to him.”
Bautista Agut, whose already won the Auckland and Sofia titles this year will play in his first Masters 1000 final on Sunday. His 48 match wins this year are a career-best for the Spaniard.
Since Djokovic won his first career Roland Garros title in early June, he’s dipped a bit in form.
“I had to experience this sooner or later,” Djokovic said. “I knew I could not go on playing on highest level for so many years all the time. But it’s good to experience this so I can hopefully get better in the period to come.”
Djokovic lost the one break point he faced in the first set in the final game to give Bautista Agut the advantage. Bautista Agut served for the match in the ninth game, but couldn’t make good on three match points, and floundered on the fourth break point he faced.
The Serb had no chance to save the final match point on his own serve in the 10th game as Bautista Agut smoked an exquisite forehand passing shot up the line.
“He was a better play, no question about it,” Djokovic said. “In important moments, I did have my chances, a lot of chances, but just was losing my service games. In important moments, he was more consistent.”
There’s no denying that Bautista Agut’s been in fine form this week and is delighted at the opportunity to take down the world No. 2 Murray as a follow-up to his upset of Djokovic.
The Spaniard will be hoping to keep the momentum going, but Murray is playing quality tennis these days as well, and is looking to position himself to upend Djokovic from the top spot in the rankings.
Murray’s won the two previous career meetings against Bautista Agut in straight sets.