Roberto Bautista Agut suffered a heartbreaking three-set defeat to World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the Western & Southern Open semifinals yesterday. The Spaniard played his heart out for three hours and chased down everything Djokovic threw at him, but still ended up tantalizingly short.
The match was quite bizarre in some respects though, and saw one too many momentum shifts. And Bautista Agut believes a few of those shifts were aided by the match referee Lars Graff's questionable decisions.
In his post-match press conference, Bautista Agut claimed that the closing of the roof mid-way through the match handed Novak Djokovic a much-needed break, while disrupting his own momentum.
Novak Djokovic took a bathroom break after losing the first set - as allowed by the rules. The Serb then took a medical timeout at 2-1 in the second set, given that he seemed constricted by his neck injury and a stomach issue throughout the opening two sets.
On resumption of play, Djokovic immediately broke the Spaniard to race to a 4-1 lead. But Bautista Agut regained his composure and broke back to bring the set on serve at 4-5.
At that crucial moment, there was a third interruption - this time because the match referee Lars Graff decided to close the roof amid the rain forecast. That unscheduled pause of over five minutes threw Bautista Agut off, and nobody was surprised when he get broken right off the bat to hand Djokovic the set.
"He broke my rhythm" - Bautista Agut on the match referee after defeat to Novak Djokovic
Roberto Bautista Agut wasn't one bit happy about the three extended breaks during a period when the Spaniard had all the momentum in the match. The eighth seed decided to let fly against Lars Graff later, mincing no words after his defeat to Novak Djokovic.
"He (Lars Graff) broke my rhythm. It was the 3rd time we stop the rhythm in the match. One at toilet break & a physio break & then a roof break," Bautista Agut said, visibly frustrated.
The Spaniard was perplexed with the decision to close the roof in the second set as the rain was expected to come down 30 minutes later. In fact, it didn't reach the area until the match was deep into its third set.
Bautista Agut felt that the extended pause to close the roof disrupted his serving rhythm, making him lose his first three service points after the resumption (the first of which was a double fault). And although he tried to fight back, it was too late as Novak Djokovic eventually took one of his three set points.
"The roof break could wait a little bit to finish the set, because to close the roof, it's 5 minutes. I totally disagree with the decision he took," Roberto Bautista Agut added on 'roofgate'.
The 32-year-old then revealed that he has had disagreements with Lars Graff in the past too. He particularly mentioned the first point after starting the game at 4-5, which gave Novak Djokovic an immediate - and eventually decisive - advantage.
"It's not the 1st time I disagree with Lars Graff. I think it was not great & it was 100% wrong. I lost the toss of the ball with my serve on the 5-4 & I cannot do nothing right now, no? But it's for sure a bad decision from Lars Graff," Bautista Agut finished.Published 29 Aug 2020, 16:36 IST