Damien Kayat previews the Round of 16 clash between John Isner and Roberto Batista Agut taking place at the Miami Open.
Image Copyright – Steve Haag Sports
John Isner 33/20 | Roberto Bautista Agut 47/100
Lightning can sometimes strike twice. John Isner just beat Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets for the second consecutive time at Hard Rock Stadium (he beat the Canadian in the 2019 semi-finals). Isner has always been the type of guy you can back in a horses-for-courses scenario. The 35-year-old American claimed his greatest ever crown at the 2018 Miami Open. Granted, it was at another venue. But that didn’t stop him from reaching the 2019 Final- where he would lose to one Roger Federer. The huge serving American has been extremely low-profile since the tennis lockdown was lifted, only playing in five events and never advancing past the third round. But perhaps this venue will help revive his fortunes. Isner was actually in decent form last year, reaching the semi-finals of both the ASB Classic and Mexican Open.
Roberto Bautista Agut has always been a curious case for me. Whenever I watch him play, I tend to be underwhelmed. But then he will go win some event that I barely considered him capable of competing in. He is a guy who has a certain cap. But if any top player is off- even by a little bit- then he can beat anyone. He has beaten Novak Djokovic on three occasions. He benefitted (hugely) from a walkover in his opening match against dangerous South African Llyod Harris. He then toiled against Jan Lennard Struff last time out. He never exactly seems in cruise control. But he has found a way to get things done over the past few years. He has already reached two finals this season, including that sensational victory in Qatar. Not many people can say that they have beaten Rublev and Thiem in consecutive matches.
Verdict: John Isner 33/20
Isner leads the head-to-head 3-1. What’s even more encouraging for the American: their last match was an Isner victory on these courts in 2019. You would think that Bautista Agut should benefit from the slightly slower conditions this week. But there was something razor clinical about the way that Isner dealt with Auger-Aliassime. That brutality on serve could make a mockery of these ‘slow’ surfaces.
Written by Damien Kayat.