Quarterfinal action in Estoril will have a Spanish flavor on Friday, as the remaining participants include Pablo Carreno Busta, Nicolas Almagro, and David Ferrer. Carreno Busta and Almagro are going head-to-head, while Ferrer is facing Ryan Harrison.
(1) Pablo Carreno Busta vs. Nicolas Almagro
It will be a rematch of the 2016 Estoril Open final when Carreno Busta and Nicolas Almagro meet again during quarterfinal action on Friday. Their only previous encounter came last year with this title on the line, and Almagro triumphed by pulling off a minor 6-7(6), 7-6(5), 6-3 upset. With the way Carreno Busta has been playing in 2017, another loss this time would arguably come as an even bigger surprise. The Spaniard registers two spots off his career-high ranking at 21st in the world thanks in part to three semifinal showings (including in Indian Wells) and a runner-up performance on the red clay of Rio de Janeiro. Carreno Busta opened in Estoril on Wednesday by holding off countryman Tommy Robredo 7-6(5), 7-5.
Almagro is an even 6-6 this year and his 2016 Estoril points have already come off the board so he recently plunged to No. 86 in the rankings. Perhaps starting to play his best tennis since last spring, the 31-year-old advanced one round in both Monte-Carlo and Barcelona before cruising to straight-set wins over Benoit Paire and Gastao Elias earlier this week. Carreno Busta’s mental toughness from having won so many matches this season and his solid two-handed backhand will likely be too tough for Almagro in this one.
Pick: Carreno Busta in 2
(4) David Ferrer vs. Ryan Harrison
Ferrer and Harrison will be going head-to-head for the fourth time in their careers on Friday. All three of their previous meetings have gone Ferrer’s way. He got the job done in five sets at Wimbledon in 2011 and in three sets at both the 2013 Cincinnati Masters and the 2015 Acapulco event. Now 35 years old, however, Ferrer appears to be slowing down at an alarming rate. The Spaniard is a dreadful 4-7 this season and down at No. 31 in the rankings, with many more points soon to evaporate. He at least managed to scrape past Portuguese wild card Frederico Ferreira Silva 6-3, 6-4 on Thursday.
Harrison knows a thing or two about precipitous declines, as well, but at the moment he is back on the rise. The 24-year-old American is 8-6 at the ATP level in 2017 and lifted his first career trophy on the indoor hard courts of Memphis in February. Harrison promptly lost four main-draw matches in a row, but he beat Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 in his Estoril opener before getting a walkover from Juan Martin Del Potro. Even on clay, youth–and superior firepower with the serve and forehand–should prevail.
Pick: Harrison in 3