Roberto Bautista Agut had only won two sets in four previous meetings against Kei Nishikori, but his consistent depth of groundstroke and never-say-die attitude enabled the Spanish roadrunner to reach the fourth round at The Championships on Friday.
Bautista Agut, the No. 18 seed, blocked ninth seed Nishikori’s path into Wimbledon‘s second week for the third time (2014, 2016) with a 6-4, 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-3 victory in three hours and 21 minutes. The match featured 107 points of five strokes or more.
“I couldn’t maintain my level high enough to beat Bautista today,” said Nishikori. “I think he served well in every set… I had many chance, but I think he played well on the important points.”
Bautista Agut, who also reached the 2015 fourth round, is now 32-11 on the season. The Spaniard picked up his lone ATP World Tour grass-court title at the 2014 Ricoh Open (d. Becker).
The serve of seventh seed Marin Cilic has been one of the biggest weapons on the grass this season, but it was his return that did the damage against 26th seed Steve Johnson. Cilic amassed 15 break points and converted on four to move into the second week with a 6-4, 7-6(3), 6-4 win.
Apart from a mid-match hiccup in which he squandered a 5-2 lead in the second set, the Croatian looked sharp on No. 1 Court. Cilic hit 17 aces and used his big serve to make timely trips forward, winning on 20 of 34 net points. He further improves his FedEx ATP Head2Head against Johnson to 3-0.
Cilic has enjoyed a solid grass-court season, reaching the semi-final in ‘s-Hertogenbosch (l. Muller) and coming within a single point of the Aegon Championships crown before falling to Feliciano Lopez. Cilic lost just 10 first-serve points in four matches en route to The Queen’s Club final.
Cilic will look to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the fourth consecutive year when he next plays Bautista Agut. Cilic leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head with the Spaniard 2-1, but this will be their first match off of hard courts.