Del Potro sets up Auckland semi-final with Ferrer

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Roberto Bautista Agut has muscled his way into the ASB Classic final with a 6-7 (7-9) 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-5) victory over Dutchman Robin Haase in Auckland.

The fifth-seeded Bautista Agut dominated Saturday's first set, trumping del Potro with unerringly accurate groundstrokes, eventually winning 6-1 4-6 7-5. Back in 2014, it was a win over del Potro which exposed the Spaniard to the limelight, and this time after three straight losses, Bautista Agut managed to prevail in Auckland for the second time.

"I knew it was going to be important, the beginning of the match", said Bautista Agut, who broke his opponent three times in the first set.

Yet at 4-4 in the second set, something clicked for del Potro. A game later, Bautista Agut erased a break point and served out the match to win his seventh ATP World Tour title and his first of the new season.

"The final against Ash was not easy, but I was able to play my game in important moments".

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"I was playing every match during the night and today was really hard, to play with this sun and humidity - I felt it a lot, in the start of the match. Juan Martin is a great champion, he's very tough to beat and I played two wonderful games in the last two games of the match".

"And then I think my game improved a little bit".

"Today the conditions were hard and he was a hard opponent, serving very well and a lefty, playing with a very flat backhand", Bautista Agut said. He had even better luck against Del Potro (4/5), despite the second seed's strong play coming into the final. "Roberto is a great champion so congratulations to him".

"I have many good things to celebrate - of course, when you lose in a final, it's not happiness, but the tennis life continues".

Del Potro fell to 20-10 in career finals, posting a 1-1 record in finals in 2017. Bautista Agut will receive 250 ATP Rankings points and $89,435 in prize money and is projected to remain at No. 21 in the ATP Rankings.

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