Pablo Carreno Busta continued his breakthrough in Saturday night’s Montreal draw with an action-packed semi-final win Daniel Evans. The Spaniard won a high-class clash of unseeded upstarts 7-5 6-7(7) 6-2 to advance to his maiden ATP Masters 1000 final.
The 31-year-old had a match point in the second set tiebreak but saw his perfect set streak cut short at nine of the week before charging back in a dominant last set. With competitors separated so little for most of the two-hour, 58-minute marathon, Carreno Busta sped through the finish line and won the final 12 points, including eight on the return.
“It was fun for the audience, but it was tough for me,” he said of the gripping encounter. “I had a match point in the second set but he served pretty well so there was nothing I could do. When you have a match point and you have to play another set, it’s always hard to pull it off.
“Mentally I think I was very good. Probably the start of the third set was the hardest part of the game. But after that I thought I needed to be more aggressive, try to push a lot, try to go to the net and it was Well.”
The world No. 23 reached his second final of the season (Barcelona) by combining his aggressive baseline play with a dominant performance on first serve that saw him win 79 percent (49/62) of the points on his first delivery. He fired 43 winners and broke on five of his eight chances as he took control of the match all the way.
Though neither player was seeded, this semifinal was a heavyweight bout, with both men hitting the deck after landing flat-footed in a bruise rally. After Evans fell earlier in the match, Carreno Busta slipped late in the second set tiebreak to return a mini-break to Evans.
Corresponding INSIGHTS: In attack According to metrics, Carreno Busta was the aggressor all night, playing more balls from attacking positions than his opponent. But the gap was widest in the final set as he turned the screw and recovered from a lost match point to land the crucial shots. The Spaniard played 28 percent of his shots from attacking positions in the third set, twice as much as his opponent.
Carreno Busta attacked a lot from the back, while Evans pressed with 45 attempts at the net, winning 32 of them (71%).
The Spaniard knocked off seeded Italians Matteo Berretini and Jannik sinner to boost his run in Montreal, a welcome change from what he described as “probably the worst year of my career”. He now has a chance to claim his seventh and biggest ATP Tour title.
“This week, I don’t know why, but the level was incredible,” he said. “I played really good matches at the beginning of the tournament. Yesterday [against Jack Draper] wasn’t the best match, but I suffered and fought a lot. It was the same today. I probably didn’t play the best tennis of the week, but it’s very important to win these kinds of matches if you don’t do your best. I’m happy to be in the final… I’m definitely excited.”
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Carreno Busta has moved up 14 places to 15th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin this week and has a chance to move up to 11th with the title.
He and Hurkacz split their previous two ATP Head2Head meetings, both in 2021, with the Spaniard winning in Cincinnati and Hurkacz being victorious in the Metz final.
That week Hurkacz also won the doubles title with his compatriot in Metz Jan Zielinsky. He could repeat that title win in Montreal should he beat Carreno Busta again and win two more doubles matches with his compatriot, including a semi-final match with Evans and John Peers at the end of the game on Saturday.