Editor’s Note: This article was translated from ATPTour.com/es.

Four years ago, nobody could’ve imagined that Roberto Bautista Agut and Andy Murray would cross paths at the Australian Open again. In January 2019, the Briton had announced in a press conference that he would soon be saying farewell to professional tennis, and that it would likely be his last appearance at the season’s first Grand Slam.

That day, the Spaniard picked up his first win over the former No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-7(4), 6-2 in a thrilling match that the Scot’s brother (Jamie) and mother (Judy) witnessed from his box. The crowd also made themselves known during the encounter.

“There was a Davis Cup atmosphere,” the Castellon native Bautista Agut recalled this Thursday, after progressing to the third round. “I dug really deep. I ended up winning the match and it gave me a lot of confidence to reach the quarters here in Australia.”

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Since then, Bautista Agut and Murray have squared off three more times. Their next encounter will come on Saturday in the third round of the 2023 Australian Open. Now the ATP Head2Head series stands at three a piece.

The No. 25 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings already has a 6-2 record in 2023, including a run to the Adelaide International 2 final before arriving at the Australian Open. “Roberto historically starts seasons well,” his coach Daniel Gimeno-Traver told ATPTour.com.

“I’m not saying anything new when I say he’s a very professional guy, that he works very well, does very tough preseasons, demands a lot of himself and always gives 100%,” Gimeno-Traver said. “That is one of the keys to his good starts. He prepares diligently so he can perform when the year starts. Maybe that’s the key, other than the fact that things just have to fall into place.”

In Melbourne, Bautista Agut has come through the challenges of Portuguese Joao Sousa and American Brandon Holt. However, the latter victory was not all plain sailing; the Spaniard had to battle back from two sets to love down (4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2).

“In the second round, he paid the price of not knowing the opponent, who caught us off guard a little at first, it took him a while to get into the rhythm of the match, but from the third set he played very well,” Gimeno-Traver said. “Roberto was playing very well in the matches leading up to the Australian Open and also in the first round. We’re happy, despite that scare, because when you’re two sets down you’re against the ropes.”

Bautista Agut now faces a new challenge against a rejuvenated 35-year-old Murray, who has played 10 hours and 34 minutes of tennis without issue, coming through 10 sets en route to the third round.

“The key to the match lies in being aggressive, trying to defend as little as possible. He has to try to dictate the rhythm, not let him dominate, he should decide when he wants to control the game,” Gimeno-Traver said. “Not just making it a tough match, because he has two five-set matches in his legs, but also trying to set the rhythm, which is what we’ve been working on recently.”

Gimeno-Traver made no attempt to hide the game the 35-year-old intends to deploy not just this tournament, but also for the rest of this season: “Being a little more dominant of the match and for players not only to fear him because he’s very solid and tough, but also because he is good on the attack.”

Bautista Agut and Murray will clash on Margaret Court Arena not before 7 p.m. local time.

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