It was easy to see exactly how Bautista Agut’s patient play frustrated Djokovic to the point of racquet obliteration and garment-ripping. From the outset the Spaniard matched Murray toe-for-toe in terms of patience and defence, coupled with ripping forehand winners.
Much as in his match against Simon yesterday, Murray kept himself patient as Bautista Agut just ruched a little in his frustration to try and get a breakthrough, handing Murray the single break he needed to win the first set.
Murray’s first serve seemed curiously absent as he stepped up to serve for the set, double-faulting on his third set point to give the Spaniard hope, with an exceptionally loose game – Bautista Agut excels in taking advantage of anything opponents give him as he levelled at 5-5
Now suddenly it was Murray snatching at the ball as Bautista Agut made good on his lifeline with a serve to love. He needed to dig deep to at least force a tie-break, conjuring up angles and clipping the line by the merest millimetre on his opening point.
Obviously you can’t call Bautista Agut ‘inexperienced’ but big match temperament came to the fore, as Murray piled on the pressure drawing errors from the Spaniard to open up a 5-1 lead. Perhaps a little unlucky in some dubious looking lines, Bautista Agut surrendered seven points in a row, as the Brit sealed the set with a blistering return.
Murray kept the momentum by breaking the Spaniard at the start of the second set, but again allowed himself to get distracted by a dodgy call, throwing in another loose game to give Bautista Agut a chance to get on the board. It was a momentary lapse as Murray broke back to keep the pressure on.
Things rather unravelled quickly for Bautista Agut, who relinquished all his service games, with Murray serving out for the Championship to love to win a hat-trick of Shanghai titles, his 13th Masters 1000 title, and helps him creep up towards Novak Djokovic.
The chase is on for World No. 1
It has obviously been a big narrative but now with back to back wins in Asia, the chance is there.
With Djokovic obviously rusty having not played since finishing as the runner-up at the US Open, and losing in the semi-final, so not defending his title, he confirmed that he declined to take a chance to play ahead of Paris and the World Tour Finals in London.
However, the indoor environment suits the Serbian down to the ground, and it was reasonable to expect him to be rusty after a long lay-off, and recovering from an elbow injury. He looked as though mentally he was struggling at times to keep his focus but the run-up to London should see him return more focussed.
Balance that however with Murray squeezing in another tournament the week before Paris, and then onto London, but the pressure of so many points to defend perhaps frees the Brit up to put pressure on Djokovic.
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