Finals previews and predictions: Raonic vs. Sock, Thiem vs. Carreno Busta

Familiar foes Milos Raonic and Jack Sock will be facing each other for the Delray Beach title on Sunday. In Rio de Janeiro, meanwhile, an intriguing clay-court final pits Dominic Thiem against Pablo Carreno Busta.

Delray Beach: (1) Milos Raonic vs. (3) Jack Sock

Raonic and Sock will be squaring off for an almost hard-to-believe 11th time in their careers when they battle for the Delray Beach Open title on Sunday. The head-to-head series stands at 8-2 in favor of Raonic, who had won eight in a row at Sock’s expense until the American prevailed 0-6, 6-4, 7-6(8) at last fall’s Shanghai Masters. Raonic is 6-2 against Sock on hard courts, including 4-1 outdoors.

The good news for Sock is that he is playing arguably the best tennis of his life right now. He is 11-1 this season with a title in Auckland, wins this week over Radu Albot, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Steve Johnson, and Donald Young, and a loss only to a similarly red-hot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Australian Open third round. Raonic, playing his first event since a quarterfinal loss to Rafael Nadal in Melbourne, has advanced with victories over Borna Coric, Kyle Edmund, and Juan Martin Del Potro. The fourth-ranked Canadian had not been broken by Del Potro until he served for the match in the second set on Saturday night, but he recovered in the ensuing tiebreaker for a 6-3, 7-6(6) triumph. Sock, meanwhile, has saved only four of eight break points since fighting off all seven he faced against Garcia-Lopez and the world No. 21 got broken three times by Johnson in the quarters.

Pick: Raonic in 2

Rio de Janeiro: (4) Pablo Carreno Busta vs. (2) Dominic Thiem

Thiem impressed on the Golden Swing last year (title in Buenos Aires, semifinal at the Rio Open), and his only stop on this season’s South American clay-court is shaping up to be extremely successful. The eighth-ranked Austrian is back on his favorite surface following disappointments in Sofia and Rotterdam, and he is performing like a new player. Thiem has not yet dropped a set in Rio de Janeiro defeats of Janko Tipsarevic, Dusan Lajovic, Diego Schwartzman, and Albert Ramos-Vinolas, nor has he been pushed even to a tiebreaker.

Standing in Thiem’s way of what appears to be a remarkably routine path to a 500-point title is Carreno Busta, who is 0-3 lifetime in the head-to-head series. But it has never been easy for Thiem against Carreno Busta, with the Spaniard having taken a set on each occasion (Gstaad in 2015, Buenos Aires and the U.S. Open in 2016). This week’s fourth seed has advanced to the final with victories over Joao Souza, Victor Estrella Burgos, Alexandr Dolgopolov, and Casper Ruud, surrendering sets to all but Souza in the process. Thus continues a stellar February for Carreno Busta, who also won the deciding Davis Cup rubber for Spain against Croatia and reached the Buenos Aires semifinals. As if all of those three-setters this week have not been enough, the world No. 24 also went all the way to the doubles final with Pablo Cuevas and won it on Saturday night. A fatigued Carreno Busta may not have enough left in the tank to seriously compete with an opponent who has quite simply been by far the best player in Rio ever since top seed Kei Nishikori lost in the first round.

Pick: Thiem in 2

25 Comments on Finals previews and predictions: Raonic vs. Sock, Thiem vs. Carreno Busta

  1. I had both Thiem and Sock winning in the Tennis Draw Challenge. Guess I’ll stick with them even though Raonic is playing much better now.

  2. Milos got a hamstring?Really?I had to be suspicious of that…Last year,he also claimed he got an injury when he was supposed to met with Andy in semi final in Paris masters…his withdrawal meant Novak lose his no 1 spot to Andy[and angered Novak fans to no end!]…and not 2 weeks after that,he run like a headless chicken at ATP final without a sign of injury at all!And what’s more,he almost toppled Andy in memorable semi final in the match that lasted for 3 hours 38 minutes!I wouldn’t be surprised if he choose to play in Acapulco next week!

  3. Wow this has been thee most crap tournament ever. Really raonic you piece of scum looking after my body BS what a total knob head. Im gona withdraw you dumb Canadian and sucked in to Delpo, hope he is pissed lol thats what you get for playing like crap.

  4. Can’t believe people saying Milos would fake injury in a title match! Milos is injury prone, we all know that! His constant pressure to improve his game going for longer points does no favors to his tall body…thus he easily ends up injured or feeling hurt… cut him some slack people…geez…

    • I do not believe that Raonic would fake an injury in a title match. I watched the semifinal and thought he played really well. I was pulling for Delpo, but he was outplayed. I thought he might take it to a third set when he had set point the second set TB.

      I try to give players the benefit of the doubt. It is true that Raonic is injury prone. He had that hip injury against Rafa at the AO. He and Nishi seem to be quite injury prone. I remember Nishi having to withdraw late in a tournament. I think it was Miami.

      Very unfortunate for the fans who were really supporting Delpo.

      • Indeed…felt sorry for Delpo’s fans too…but as you rightly said, he was outplayed…however, this match took a toll on Milios’ body…so unfortunate for Milos…

        • Yes, I do think that the semifinal took a toll on Raonic. Good point. I think Raonic knew that he would have to bring his “A” game against Delpo.

  5. Sorry guys!Didn’t mean to be disrespectful for Milos…maybe his injury this time a little bit serious than his last…But IMO,he shouldn’t pulled out from Paris Masters last year..keep on playing but give your minimum effort because you’re injured at that time…Fans will understand immediately that he’s injured..When you pulled out from a big tournament too many times,you sending a wrong signal and doubt to fans…especially not long after that,you start chasing the ball like there’s nothing wrong with u at all…

    And i know he’s an injury prone like rafa or Kei…God knows as a rafa fan,we saw him in this situation many times before…in 2010,he pulled out from AO against Andy with foot injury..but a year later once again he had a hamstring injury when played against Ferrer in QF,but didn’t pulled out this time and when asked about it later rafa confessed that he cannot do that again because he’s already pulled out the year before..and it’s not good to that once again…so,as u all know,he kept playing with pain but gave his all none the less[that’s our rafa guys!]..and of coz he lost..

    Also at AO 2014..once again as u guys already know,he’s already felt something when he’s warm up but ignore it and chose to play…and of coz it got worsen as it should be…and the rest is history…and i believe rafa’s back injury is much worse than Milos right thigh injury when he chose to pulled out from Paris masters last year…rafa’s back injury still bothered him long after that and one of the reason why his serve is terrible in the last 2 years and affected his whole game is because of his back injury…

    So,my point is…the attitude between rafa and Milos is way way different..yeah,Milos have a right to pulled out from any tournament that he’s entered but before doing that..please make an effort first..if you don’t have a career threatening injury,then play…show some effort and determination and will…it’s okay if you’ve been bageled or breadsticked…at least fans can see that you’ve already give your everything on court and not give up too easily…

    I’m so sorry if i hurt your feeling guys in my comment up there..It’s not my intention at all…

    • Rafa pulled out of the French open last year. He said he could have played but not well enough to win and he would have risked further injury which makes sense.

      Players don’t fake injury and play when they don’t risk further injury.

      End of.

    • MA,

      You did not hurt my feelings. We all can have our opinions. I thought that Raonic really pushed himself to beat Delpo. Maybe he did not feel the effects until after the match or woke up the next day in pain.

      Rafa has handled things as necessary. Sometimes he’s had to retire, as in the 2010 AO against Murray when I think he had a knee problem. He did try to play through a hamstring injury in the 2011 AO, even arguing with Uncle Toni at one point because he wanted Rafa to retire.

      It’s something that players face, some more often than others.

      It’s okay!
      ?

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