For the second consecutive tournament, Novak Djokovic, the world No.1, finds himself going home early. In Indian Wells he lost in the third round, while at the Miami Masters he crashed out in the fourth!
I played more aggressive, I tried to miss less balls, to really concentrate on the beginning of the point with my serve, with my return. Roberto Bautista Agut
Djokovic, who was chasing a record seventh title in Miami, was unable to prevent Roberto Bautista Agut from recovering from his opening set loss for one game, to turn the match around and complete a 1-6 7-5 6-3 victory and claim a place in the quarter finals.
The 30-year-old Spaniard had previously beaten the Serb earlier this year in Doha on his way to the Qatar Open title, a defeat Djokovic looked set to erase by dominating the opening play and first set.
After just 25 minutes, Djokovic was 5-0 ahead and on cruise control, with Bautista Agut severely struggling to stay in the match.
A short rain delay late in the second set allowed Bautista Agut to regroup and he returned a completely different player, producing the sort of play which saw him succeed in Doha and after two hours and 29 minutes, the 22nd seed completed the task.
“I played more aggressive,” said Bautista Agut who began to noticeably step inside and force Djokovic onto the back foot. “I tried to miss less balls, to really concentrate on the beginning of the point with my serve, with my return.”
The reigning Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open champion left court and headed straight to a press conference to try and explain this most remarkable of turnarounds at the Hard Rock Stadium.
“He is a solid player but I shouldn’t have lost this match, I had way too many wasted opportunities,” he said.
“I thought I played well today and during this tournament but two or three sluggish games and that’s what happens.”
The Serb said he would “rethink” how he prepared for the early-season American swing next year. “I just had way too many things off the court,” he said, referring to his involvement in ousting Chris Kermode from the ATP’s top job. “I guess that affected me a little bit on the court.
“I didn’t feel my best health-wise, as well, in Indian Wells and here. You know, still rusty, but, hey, look, you learn that’s life.”
Elsewhere, South African sixth seed Kevin Anderson advanced with a 7-5 7-5 victory over Australia’s Jordan Thompson, while big-serving American John Isner moved into the last eight with a 7-6(5) 7-6(3) win over Britain’s world number 22 Kyle Edmund.
There was also a brilliant win for 18-year-old Canadian qualifier Felix Auger-Aliassime, who beat Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-6(4) 6-4.
Auger-Aliassime, who is set to become the first player born in the 2000s to break into the top 50 when the rankings are updated next week, plays Borna Coric after the Croatian beat Nick Kyrgios 4-6 6-3 6-2.
The controversial Australian was furious after being heckled by a fan during the third set and was docked a point after responding with an expletive. Something similar happened Sunday night.
Kyrgios said he did not regret having a go at the spectator.
“I’m playing for two hours and 20 minutes, and a guy yells at me, like ‘play some tennis’,” Kyrgios explained. “I’m not going to take it… Probably not needed, but at that time, when you’re competing and in the heat of the moment, it’s probably not what you want to hear.
“If I swear or something, then I’ll lose the point. That’s why I didn’t argue it. I just walked to my chair.”
Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov also advanced to the quarter-finals with a 4-6 6-3 7-6(3) win over Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas, the tournament’s eighth seed.
In a late night match that lasted over two hours and finished at 1:40 am local time, Shapovalov claimed only his second career win over an opponent in the top 10 in a ‘Next Gen’ battle.
Shapovalov will take on American Frances Tiafoe in the next round, Tiafoe having dispatched David Goffin 7-5 7-6(6).