Both ranked outside the Top 20, Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut and Argentina’s Guido Pella are two names you wouldn’t expect to see at the business end of a Grand Slam, let alone Wimbledon. But on Wednesday, the two surprise quarterfinalists battled for a spot in their first major semifinal, with Bautista Agut emerging the victor, 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
"I [played] very good the first week of the tournament. And today was a very difficult match," said Bautista Agut. "Guido Pella is a good opponent, has won really good matches this week. He was really tough to beat.
"Well, it was also a good opportunity for us to pass through the quarterfinals and play the semifinals here in Wimbledon. Well, it was also a lot of emotions on the match. Well, I feel very happy."
Pella had upset former Wimbledon finalists Kevin Anderson and Milos Raonic en route to the elite eight, while Bautista Agut defeated 10th-seeded Karen Khachanov in the third round. The Spaniard and the Argentine had played twice before, with Bautista Agut winning both matches—in the opening round of the 2017 Australian Open and in the 2019 Munich quarterfinals.
Contesting his first-ever major quarterfinal, Pella showed signs of nerves, dropping his very first service game. He slowly settled in, and on his sixth break point of an eighth game that lasted over 10 minutes, converted to tie the set at 4-4. Another long 10-minute tug of war ensued, with Pella eventually holding to move up 5-4. However, he was broken again in the following game, and not long after, Bautista Agut was a set up.
The beginning of the second set echoed the first, Bautista Agut earned an early break. Continuing to do a lot of damage with his forehand, he began to take Pella out of his comfort zone, and soon claimed a two-set lead.
Pella took a quick 3-0 lead in the third set, and would end Bautista Agut’s spotless performance in the fortnight in terms of sets won. Despite spending over 12 hours on court in his previous four rounds—six hours more than Bautista Agut, the 29-year-old Argentine showed no signs of fatigue. Unfortunately for Pella, Bautista Agut’s forehand resumed its dominance, ending the No. 26 seed’s dream run.
With the win, the world No. 22 became the fourth male Spaniard to reach the semifinals at the All England Club. He will aim to continue his best major run when he faces Novak Djokovic. He has had success against the world No. 1, having won their last two encounters. In both meetings, contested on hard courts in 2019, Bautisa Agut had to claw back from a set down to win.
"We played I think 10 times. I had the chance to play really good matches against him. Some I lost, some I won," said Bautista Agut, reflecting on his previous matches against Djokovic. "I played really, really tough and difficult matches against him. He's the past champion here in Wimbledon. He really likes playing on grass. Well, I really feel good also playing this year here on the grass. I think it's going to be a nice match."