Pablo Carreno Busta guaranteed Spain’s spot in the ATP Cup semi-finals on Friday with a 6-3, 6-4 win against Greece’s Michail Pervolarakis.
World No. 2 Rafael Nadal, who led Spain to last year’s championship match against Serbia, has not yet competed in this edition due to a stiff lower back. But Spain has battled on with two of the Top 20 players in the FedEx ATP Rankings: World No. 16 Carreno Busta and World No. 13 Roberto Bautista Agut, who will face 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas in this tie’s No. 1 singles match.
“I knew that we needed this point. With this victory, we are into the semi-finals, so it was very important to us,” Carreno Busta said in his on-court interview. “I tried to be focussed on myself, to try to play my [best] game].”
Carreno Busta has stepped up well for his country, winning both of his singles matches — he also defeated Australian John Millman on Tuesday — in straight sets. The Spaniard broke in his first return game of the match, and he never looked back.
The 29-year-old Carreno Busta made few mistakes from the baseline, forcing Pervolarakis to play outside of his comfort zone and go for too much. The World No. 462 battled hard to hang in there despite losing the first five games of the match, even eliciting a round of applause from Nadal after he won his first game. But the Greek was unable to consistently go blow for blow with the four-time ATP Tour titlist in longer rallies.
Carreno Busta maintained his steady level throughout to triumph after 70 minutes. The former World No. 10 has only lost 13 games in four sets.
“At the beginning of the match, I think it was perfect. I played really good,” Carreno Busta said. “Then he started to play better, to play more aggressive and I tried to continue. Finally 6-3, 6-4 I won and I’m happy.”
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Pervolarakis was pursuing the first ATP Tour win of his career. The Greek had to defeat Carreno Busta to give his country a chance at advancing to the semi-finals.
Tsitsipas and Bautista Agut have clashed once before, in the 2019 Australian Open quarter-finals. The Greek triumphed in four sets to become the youngest Grand Slam semi-finalist since a 20-year-old Novak Djokovic at the 2007 US Open.