French Open QF preview and prediction: Nadal vs. Carreno Busta

It will be an another all-Spanish affair for Rafael Nadal when he goes up against good friend Pablo Carreno Busta in the French Open quarterfinals on Tuesday.

Nadal clobbered countryman Roberto Bautista Agut during fourth-round action on Sunday to reach the quarters at Roland Garros for 11th time in his illustrious career. Carreno Busta took a much more circuitous route to what is his first-ever appearance in the last eight of a Grand Slam. The world No. 21 outlasted Milos Raonic 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-7(6), 6-4, 8-6 in a Sunday afternoon thriller in the Court 1 bull ring.

This marks the fourth meeting between the two compatriots and occasional doubles partners, with Nadal sweeping the head-to-head series 3-0. He is 6-1 in total sets following two straight-set victories on red clay in Rio de Janeiro (2015 and 2016) and a 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-1 win on the hard courts of Doha last season.

Fast forward more than a year since their last encounter and Carreno Busta is a much different player now. The 25-year-old will likely surpass his career-high ranking of 18th next week and he could be in the top eight in the 2017 race to London after the French Open even if he loses to Nadal. Carreno Busta, who is 27-13 this season with a title in Estoril and a semifinal run in Indian Wells, preceded his triumph over Raonic with defeats of Florian Mayer, Taro Daniel, and Grigor Dimitrov.

Nadal has been predictably dominant so far this fortnight. Perfect on clay in 2017 aside from a Rome quarterfinal setback at the hands of a red-hot Dominic Thiem, the nine-time Roland Garros champion demolished Benoit Paire, Robin Haase, and Nikoloz Basilashvili before beating Bautista Agut. Nadal has dropped a grand total of 20 games through four matches.

“I am healthy and I am playing well,” the No. 4 seed assured. “That’s the only important thing for me. (I’m) very happy about the first week of competition, obviously.”

“If I think that I don’t have chances, I will not play,” Carreno Busta said. “So for sure I think I have chances. (It) is really difficult, because Rafa is maybe the best player [on] this surface [in] history, and he’s playing really [well]. But I will try. I’m playing [well], with a lot of confidence. Maybe I’m a little tired, but I have one day off.”

It does not matter, of course, if Carreno Busta has one day or one hundred days off following the biggest win of his career. Nadal is well-rested following a quartet of beatdowns and in nothing short of ruthless form. He has not lost more than four games in any set in six consecutive matches at Roland Garros dating back to last spring. That trend should continue against an opponent who is playing incredibly solid tennis but does not have the firepower with which to seriously trouble Nadal.

Pick: Nadal in 3 losing 8-10 games

20 Comments on French Open QF preview and prediction: Nadal vs. Carreno Busta

    • MA,

      You are reading my mind! You know how I think!

      Thanks for posting this! It’s reassuring to read Rafa’s words!

      Now I feel better! Rafa knows what he has to do to beat Thiem. Make him uncomfortable!

      You go Rafa!

    • Thanks for the link, MA! I really felt for PCB. And I thought about Rafa playing Cincy and the USO thru the semis with that same injury. How tough IS he? Or how crazy? And I remember him describing the injury at the time, “I had a little bit strain, then a little bit tear, then a little bit rupture”. “The serve out wide, it kill me.” Like that overhead “killed” PCB? I think PCB did the right thing. He couldn’t win, he could have made the injury worse. Still, Rafa awes me. His determination, his respect for what he does.

  1. Nny & Ramara!…

    I know u guys r worried sick at the mo’…but,if i can give u guys a reason not to?How’s that??
    1]..Remember last year how Rafa was sooooo devastated because he had to pulled out from FO?He cried in the locker room after that…at that time,i remembered he said he’s going to play for the rest of the tourney if it’s not for his doctor advised him to pulled out because it will damage his wrist even further[that’s how crazy he is Ramara!]…so,my first reason why i think he’s going to win not only against Thiem but against Andy?or maybe Stan as well…Rafa in the current state and form WILL NOT LET ANYTHING COME BETWEEN HIM AND HIS 10TH…he’s great condition,physical and form [bar an injury that is]….

    2]…IMO..Rafa will do anything in his power to give a La Decima to Uncle Toni as a present..He knew he has a big chance now knowing his biggest nemesis in Novak Djokovic is not here anymore..

    3]…RG is very very important to him..always will and The Coupe is just 2 steps away…

    4]…He maybe keep a cool face and lay low but the scores that he created these past week tell another story guys!…Sure Thiem maybe dangerous but Rafa got 9 already!He’s certainly will not shy to show Thiem who’s superior this time around…I’m not trying to bragging guys..but,this is what i’s okay if u guys don’t want to believe it…I never worried about any player except Novak…and so is Rafa and uncle Toni…so,with novak already out,i don’t think Rafa will let this golden opportunity slides away without a fight…

    • MA,

      You are going to be my source of strength as we head into the semifinals.

      I need your words of wisdom! You make so much sense.

      I believe that Rafa wants this with every fiber of his being. I think he will do whatever it takes. You are right that Rafa’s biggest threat is now out. He knows this is an opportunity. I do not expect it to be easy. Thiem is young and hungry and feeling it now. But Rafa knows what to expect, what he is up against. I think he will be ready.

      Thanks for being there! We can hold virtual hands in cyber space!

    • Thanks, MA. I’m always nervous when Rafa plays but not because I doubt his skill or commitment. I was really scared when Rafa had to play the Sod in the 2010 final and he just SHOWED UP. Rafa was blogging during the French Open that year but he hadn’t done one the night before final day. He apologized later, said he’d wanted to go to bed early “to make final day come sooner”. Like a little kid on Christmas Eve. Bet that’s the way he’s feeling now. 🙂

  2. Theim was Rafa’s biggest threat, not Djokovic. I would have very much preferred had Nole won.

    • Yeah Atul…Agree that Thiem has weapons,stamina and age to hurt Rafa..but,IMO atm..i don’t think he’ll manage to do the damage to Rafa…NOT at RG… NOT in the BO5 and certainly NOT at this stage…He maybe can steal a set from Rafa..although i predict that Rafa will prevail in 3…Thiem looks superior because Novak atm is not Novak of old…he’s still fragile and vulnerable..But Rafa to me already reached the form that brought him to 9 titles here…So,Thiem will face a totally different opponent than Novak..

      • MA,

        Thanks for your thoughts. I watched my recording which ended up being the Novak/Thiem match. I started getting nervous watching Thiem push Novak around. I wonder if things might have played out differently if
        Novak had won the first set. I didn’t realize that Novak has set point, but couldn’t convert. That was a tight set and a tight TB.

        Thiem’s serve seemed to be hard for Novak to handle and he has one of the best ROS in the game. But then I realized that this was not Novak at his best. Any ideas that he was back were put to rest watching that match.

        The third set was just painful to watch. It was shocking and disturbing. Despite signs that Novak was improving, the problems were exposed in that match.

        Thiem is going to come out blasting against Rafa. He needs to be ready. He hasn’t played much with the rain delay and then not gettIng in a complete match today.

        I just hope Rafa can handle Thiem’s aggressive play. I know he’s in great form but this is a big step up from the guys he’s been playing.

        They said on the tennis channel that Team Nadal would have preferred to play Novak in this form over Thiem. That made me nervous.

        This is just how I get at this stage of a slam.

        • NNY, not to worry. Rafa has played against Thiem many times this season, I’m sure he knows what to expect and what to do. The fact that Djoko not at his best was able to push Thiem to the limit in set one and had set point vs Thiem, means that if Rafa playing his best will have his chances getting the first set.

          It’s important for Rafa to win the first set, creating some doubts in Thiem’s mind. He has to rush Thiem, i.e. moves forward as much as possible and not allowing Thiem time to hit freely.

          I’m sure Team Rafa will come out with a good game plan. Vamos Rafa for the win!

        • Nny!…I know,i know…I don’t know how to explain..but,i’m not worried at all Nny..none!!…i’m not trying to act bigheaded or something and I maybe wrong on friday..and i will accept it like a brave person if Rafa lost…but,atm..i can’t bring myself to see that Rafa will lost to Thiem…The factor’s all pointed to Rafa Nny..and most importantly…he’s back wrist wobble knees,no shoulder problem…legs that can still run like a rabbit..his form is superb…his confidence is crazy high..self belief already intact in place…gas is still full in the tank..and i can list many other things Nny…and..

          About what his team said…my guess,it’s just their way to cope with the pressure for Rafa…they want to shift the attention from Rafa and his much talk about La Decima…They want to transfer that pressure to Thiem a little…simple words…a mind game from Rafa’s camp…Same with what Rafa said yesterday…he said,he maybe will not up to challenge on friday..heh heh! much as i love Rafa but i won’t buy his bull!…and after he said that..he back up with..”i will make sure that i will play my best and produce my BEST TENNIS!…There u go Nny!!..His best tennis here meant..he’s only lost 22 games in 5 2012 he lost 25 games at the same stage and won FO that year…That’s his version of BEST…

          But..we’ll gonna see how the much anticipated match will unfold tomorrow…don’t worry Nny…we have to set our mind in positive thinking from the start…let’s tell ourselves…it’s VERY VERY OKAY if Rafa win…but,IT’S ALSO OKAY if rafa lost…it’s not the end of the world…it’s just not meant for him k?But…let’s go to semi first!!….Teach the kid a lesson one or two things Rafa!!Woohooo!!…I BELIEVE IN YOU!!!!

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