The 28-year-old Roberto Bautista Agut claimed one of his career-best victories in Shanghai 2016, ousting the reigning champion and world no. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 48 minutes for his first Masters 1000 final!
It was their sixth meeting and the first victory for the Spaniard, who overpowered the Serb when it mattered the most to emerge at the top. Roberto fended off seven out of nine break points (seven in the final two games alone) and produced brave and aggressive tennis to keep his serve intact until the second part of the second set against the world's best returner.
The closing stages brought a real drama, with five breaks in a row and some thrilling points before the Spaniard held his nerves to convert the fourth match point and seal the deal. Novak served at 66%, but like against Zverev, that did not bring him much, with no free points or easy serve & groundstrokes combinations.
Bautista Agut returned well, winning 41% of the points on Djokovic's serve and securing four breaks from five opportunities. Bautista Agut had 17 winners and 26 unforced errors, staying aggressive and keeping the points on his racquet.
That was best illustrated in the shortest points. Roberto won 42 and Novak "only" 33, with the Spaniard following the Serb's pace in the mid-range exchanges to earn the triumph. Novak had a 16-9 advantage in the longest points, but that was not enough to make a big difference.
The first set was very tight, and both players raced through the opening eight games with no troubles on serve, engaged in an incredible baseline battle with strong, precise shots from both wings. The ninth game could have been crucial for the overall outcome, as Novak created two break chances and had a colossal opportunity to convert the second.
In Shanghai 2016, Roberto Bautista Agut toppled Novak Djokovic in straight sets.
Still, he played a poor shot at the net and got passed by Bautista Agut, who held and stayed in front. Novak was a better player on the court so far, but that all changed in game ten when he served to stay in the set, as Roberto broke him on his first break chance to steal the opener 6-4.
The level of tennis remained on a high note in the first part of the second set, with nothing to separate two rivals in the first five games! After that, the result went back and forth, with five straight breaks that came out of nowhere.
The Spaniard broke in game six for a 4-2 lead, but Novak finally showed some of his return skills to break back in the next one. Djokovic had two game points in the next game to level the score at 4-4 and gain the momentum, but Bautista Agut found the way to break him and jump into a 5-3 lead, moving a game away from victory.
The ninth game produced the entire clash's biggest drama, with six deuces and three match points up for grabs for Bautista Agut. His nerves were getting up to him, missing a lot of first serves and failing to punch that final stroke and seal the deal.
Novak saved three match points before converting the fourth break point to stay alive and serve for 5-5. It was not to be for Djokovic, though, as he suffered another break and sent Bautista Agut over the top and into his first Masters 1000 final.