In the tunnel that leads to the Center Court of Wimbledon, with the grass already visible from the bowels of the stadium, the players pass under two lines of poetry from Rudyard Kipling: "If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same." The lines are from "If", the beautiful Rudyard Kipling poem that’s a tribute to even temperament, no matter what the circumstances.
Few players embody this attitude like Roberto Bautista Agut, who is as fierce in competition as he is calm off the court. The 31-year-old will play his first Grand Slam semi-final this Friday against Novak Djokovic. It is an example of patience and perseverance, a tenacious competitor who seized the moment.
Having been just two games away from defeating Roger Federer last month at the NOVENTI OPEN quarter-finals, the Spaniard knew he could go far at The All England Club.
"My preparation has been good,” said Bautista Agut, “I think I played a great tournament in Halle. I made two good matches there and I also had Federer against the ropes in the quarter-finals.”
Bautista’s game is uncharacteristic of the typical Spanish style. With flat strokes and a willingness to attack the net, his game is perfectly suited to grass. Bautista Agut fired 140 winners this fortnight en route to reaching the last four.
"The difference to previous years is that I’ve put in even more hard work," said Bautista Agut. "I have always had a will to progress, to improve my game. My goal has always been to become a more complete player. Not wanting to stop being a better player has brought me here now.
“My objective is to make the basics of my game strong. I will not try to serve at 220kph because that will never happen in my life. I have tried to strengthen my strengths and that takes a lot of work, many hours of dedication and physical preparation. There is a lot of sweat that takes place at home."
These are the words of someone truly devoted to persevering and reaching his goals. Bautista Agut won matches at Roland Garros last year just days after losing his mother. He reached his maiden Grand Slam quarter-final at this year’s Australian Open after nine previous exits in the fourth round of a major. No matter the circumstances, Bautista Agut’s faith in his abilities have never wavered.
It’s led to an incredible season so for the Spaniard. In addition to his quarter-final finish in Melbourne, Bautista Agut opened the year with a title at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open (d. Berdych) and reached the quarter-finals at the Miami Open presented by Itau. He defeated Djokovic in Doha and Miami to improve to 3-7 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry. Even if Bautista Agut loses to the World No. 1 and defending champion on Friday, he’ll jump to No. 7 in the ATP Race to London on Monday and be in position to make his debut appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals.
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Bautista Agut was particularly eager for a big fortnight after missing Wimbledon last year due to an abdominal injury. He’s accomplished that, but won’t be content with his first Grand Slam semi-final.
”I have arrived at Wimbledon with enthusiasm and rhythm. Last year, I felt terrible watching the tournament from the sofa. This year, I could get the thorn out,” he said. “It has always been a tournament that I loved. It is a place where you can enjoy.
"I'm a very experienced player now. I would say that I have more solidity. I have taken a step forward compared to other years.”.readfullarticle