Fixture: (2) Roberto Bautista Agut vs Gilles Simon
Date: 15 October 2020
Tournament: Bett1Hulks Indoors 2020
Round: Second round
Venue: Cologne, Germany
Category: ATP 250
Surface: Indoor hardcourt
Prize money: €325,610
Match timing: Approx. 7.30 pm CEST, 11 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel
Roberto Bautista Agut vs Gilles Simon preview
Second seed Roberto Bautista Agut opens his campaign at the Bett1Hulks Indoors in Cologne against familiar foe Gilles Simon on Thursday.
Bautista Agut has been a model of consistency for a couple of years now, and hasn't slipped out of the top 20 since July 2019. The World No. 13 is currently just four places shy of the career-best ranking of No. 9 he reached last November.
Bautista Agut might still be searching for his first title of 2020, but he has been impressive throughout the season. Starting the year with a run to the ATP Cup final with Spain, the 32-year-old produced a great show upon the tour restart as he made it to the semifinals of the Cincinnati Masters.
The confidence that he earned from wins over Daniil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov spurred him on to push World No. 1 Novak Djokovic to three sets in the last four clash.
Roberto Bautista Agut took that form to Hamburg, where he made the quarterfinals. He will now be looking to bounce back from his third-round defeat at Roland Garros by making a strong run in the fall.
A former World No. 6, Gilles Simon has been on a downward slide since he made it to the final at Queen's last year. Simon's ranking has dropped outside the top 50, and his only notable performance of 2020 came at Marseille - where he reached the semifinals.
The 35-year-old, who has wins over Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to his name, now seems like a pale shadow of his former himself. And his 9-12 win-loss record for the year reinforces that.
Simon entered the Cologne event on the back of a three-match losing streak. But he managed to push aside his troubles in his first match, thrashing World No. 50 Marton Fucsovics 6-0, 6-3.
The impressive win might give the Frenchman a much-needed confidence boost ahead of his encounter against Bautista Agut.
Roberto Bautista Agut vs Gilles Simon head-to-head
Roberto Bautista Agut and Gilles Simon have squared off six times out of which five have gone Simon's way, giving the Frenchman a 5-1 lead in the head-to-head record.
While Simon got the better of Bautista Agut in each of their hardcourt meetings, the Spaniard won their only claycourt showdown.
The two met for the first time at Miami 2012, which it resulted in an easy 6-4, 6-2 win for Simon. There was no change in fortunes when they locked horns at Marseille the next year.
Bautista Agut finally stopped the losing streak at Monte Carlo 2013 with a 6-3, 7-6(6) win. But Simon rebounded to take their next three wins - at Tokyo in 2014, Paris Masters in 2016 and Pune in 2018.
Roberto Bautista Agut vs Gilles Simon prediction
An aggressive counterpuncher endowed with flat groundstrokes off both the wings, Roberto Bautista Agut has traditionally struggled against Gilles Simon's speed and fantastic defensive skills. But the Spaniard now has a fabulous opportunity to turn the tables over his nemesis, given his increased self-belief over the last couple of years.
The Spaniard would look to build upon the match he played against Simon the last time they met on indoor hardcourt. Bautista Agut lost that thrilling encounter at the Paris Masters 6-2, 1-6, 6-7(6), but not before showing he was getting close to solving the Simon riddle.
Simon also has a chink in his armor which he needs to address quickly if he wants to continue his mastery over Bautista Agut. The Frenchman's first serve is a huge worry right now; he had a dismal 35% first serve percentage in his match against Fucsovics.
Simon still managed to register a breezy win, but the in-form Bautista Agut is unlikely to let him get away with similarly poor serving stats on Thursday.
Prediction: Roberto Bautista Agut to win in three sets.Published 14 Oct 2020, 02:03 IST