Football threat to Murray at Wimbledon
London: Defending champion Andy Murray targets a place in the Wimbledon last 16 Friday when he faces a man who could have been playing Spanish professional football if his life had taken a different turn.
Roberto Bautista Agut, the 27th seed, was on Villarreal`s books as a junior and could have had a promising career had he not opted for tennis instead.
"When you are 12, 13 in Spain you change. I had to change my friends on the team. I was playing with people one year older than me and it was not easy. I was not feeling well with this team," said Bautista Agut.
"With tennis I was enjoying it and I was playing good. I had to take one sport."
It`s a decision which has paid off with Bautista Agut having claimed a first grasscourt title in the Netherlands on the eve of Wimbledon despite a Spanish cultural addiction to clay courts.
"No, I`m not scared of facing Andy. I will try to play my game. I am winning a lot of matches," added the Spaniard.
"I will try to be aggressive, to play my game. I will try to enjoy to play with Andy here on grass."
Murray and Bautista Agut practiced together on the clay of Valencia in the run-up to the Madrid Masters in April.
The Briton is not under-estimating the challenge he faces.
"He`s a very good player. He won the tournament last week on the grass in Holland. He doesn`t play like a lot of the Spanish guys. He plays very flat. Not much topspin. The grass courts suit his game pretty well," said Murray.
"It will be a step up for sure. He`s improving all the time."
Murray is bidding to become the first British man to successfully defend the Wimbledon title since Fred Perry successfully retained his 1935 Wimbledon title in 1936.
In early action on Friday, former women`s world number one Caroline Wozniacki reached the last 16 for the fourth time with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Croatian 16-year-old Ana Konjuh, the world number 189, while 17-year-old Belinda Bencic of Switzerland won her delayed second round tie, 6-4, 7-5 against America`s Victoria Duval.
Top seed Novak Djokovic, the 2011 champion, was opening proceedings on Centre Court against French player Gilles Simon against whom he has a 6-1 record with Simon`s only win coming in their first meeting in 2008.
In between the two men`s matches, five-time women`s champion Venus Williams faces 2011 winner Petra Kvitova, the only Grand Slam champion born in the 1990s.
Chinese second seed Li Na, a three-time quarter-finalist, opens action on Court One against Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic with the winner to face Wozniacki for a quarter-final spot.