ATP Auckland Final Preview: Roberto Bautista Agut vs Juan Martin Del Potro

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Auckland Final

Two former champions of the ASB Classic will battle in the Auckland final as 2016 winner Roberto Bautista Agut faces 2009 titlist Juan Martin Del Potro. Both men will be looking for their second title in Auckland as they ready for the upcoming Australian Open.

For the fifth-seeded Spaniard, it’s been a week of battling through his matches as he has been pushed to three sets twice. In the second round, he rallied from a set down against Steve Johnson and in the semifinals Bautista Agut survived a three-set epic against Dutchman Robin Haase, winning 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5).
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Del Potro has had a much easier path to the final, not dropping a set with wins over Denis Shapovalov, Karen Khachanov and David Ferrer. The second seed has only been broken once by Ferrer in the semifinals and his big serve and forehand have been on point all week.

Head-to-head

This will be the fifth career meeting between Bautista Agut and Del Potro with the Argentine holding a lifetime 3-1 advantage. All of their meetings have occurred on hard courts and two of their previous four matches have gone the distance. The Spaniard won a five-setter for his only career win against Del Potro with the 2009 U.S. Open champion taking the next three in the 2016 Rio Olympics, the third round of last year’s U.S. Open and the quarter-finals of Basel.
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What Bautista Agut needs to do to win the Auckland final

It’s very simple for the Spaniard: he needs to keep his unforced errors count to a minimum and use his outstanding backhand and movement to dictate play. He doesn’t possess the firepower of Del Potro and therefore long, grinding rallies will be the order of the day for the fifth seed.

What Del Potro needs to do to win the Auckland final

For the Argentine, he’s been virtually untouchable on serve and his monster forehand has been dialled in all week. If this continues, he will easily cruise to the title. Another weapon that Del Potro can employ is his improved slice backhand as a way to change the pace of rallies and get back into an offensive position should he need to.
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Prediction

Bautista Agut is fit and confident. He’ll never embarrass himself in any match he plays, but fatigue will be a factor after needing almost three hours to beat Haase. By comparison, Del Potro should be fresh having won all of his matches in straight sets. The Argentine will be able to use his big edge on serve and his forehand should dictate enough of the rallies to push him through to his 21st career title.

Del Potro defeats Bautista Agut in straight sets.

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