Roberto Bautista Agut is in the form of his life as a 30-year-old – and he believes it is no coincidence that some of the world’s best players are in their fourth decade.
Lacoste ambassador Bautista Agut is in the UAE this week to defend his Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships title among a strong field including all-time great Roger Federer, No.1 seed Kei Nishikori and Stefanos Tsitsipas, who defeated the Spaniard at the Australian Open quarter-finals last month.
The start of the season has brought some stunning success for world No.18 Bautista Agut, not least by overcoming Novak Djokovic in the process of soaring to the Doha title in early January.
Djokovic, 31, 37-year-old Federer and 32-year-old Rafael Nadal have continued their dominance over men’s tennis into their ‘golden years’, having locked up the last nine major titles between them.
And while Bautista Agut – who is 31 in April – is still searching for an appearance at a major final, he sees no reason why he can’t follow their lead and continue to improve the older he gets.
“These days there is more injury prevention, we have healthier lifestyles, and very good preparation,” said Bautista Agut, who was speaking from the Lacoste Lounge ahead of his first-round match with India’s Ramkumar Ramanathan on Monday.
“Now the players are getting a different mentality because they start to feel good when they’re over 30. I think I still have some good years left to prove my abilities.
“I’ve had a really good start to the season, I had two months at home (in Spain) and I spent almost four weeks of vacation there, which is rare in a tennis career. Aferwards I had one month of practice in December and prepared well to start the season.”
The first Order of Play is in! Round 1 of the #DDFTennis Championships @ATP_Tour Men's week kicks off tomorrow Check it out here ⬇️ Get your tickets here: https://t.co/5bbDLm3Y6u pic.twitter.com/pGHOPX7UxR— Dubai Tennis Champs (@DDFTennis) February 24, 2019
Bautista Agut played in his first-ever quarter-final of a Grand Slam in defeat to Greek youngster Tsitsipas.
In Melbourne he also overcame former champion Andy Murray – who was visibly struggling with his longstanding hip injury – in an emotional five-setter, as well as beating home favourite John Millman and Croatia’s Marin Cilic over five sets.
And Bautista Agut puts his mental resilience down to old-fashioned hard work.
“Everything is about work, about being well prepared and also I become very calm when the emotions are out there,” he added. “It was a good challenge for me and I think I did really well.
“I think not easy to talk about these things (reaching the final of a major), I think the Australian Open was a really good week for me, a really good tournament.
“I hope I can play more of these rounds in the next years of my career.”
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