U.S. Open SF preview and prediction: Carreno Busta vs. Anderson

The wild bottom half of the U.S. Open draw is all coming down to this: Pablo Carreno Busta vs. Kevin Anderson.

They will be squaring off for the third time in their careers and for the second time during this hard-court summer when they battle for an improbable place in a Grand Slam title match on Friday afternoon. Anderson just recently prevailed 6-3, 7-6(6) last month in Montreal, improving to 2-0 lifetime in the head-to-head series on the heels of a 6-3, 6-3 victory at the 2013 clay-court event in Casablanca.

The stakes, of course, are exponentially higher now with both men competing in a major semifinal for the first time in their careers. They were not, however, the ones who busted the bottom half of the bracket. Carreno Busta became the first player ever at a slam to face four qualifiers, doing so in succession from rounds one through four. The 19th-ranked Spaniard has not dropped a single set in victories over Evan King, Cameron Norrie, Nicolas Mahut, Denis Shapovalov, and Diego Schwartzman, benefiting from a section of the draw vacated early by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Anderson initially found himself in a quarter with Marin Cilic and Alexander Zverev. Cilic got booted out of his spot (replaced by Sam Querrey) when No. 2 seed Andy Murray withdrew before the tournament and Zverev lost to Borna Coric in the second round. Thus Anderson’s friendly path to the semis included defeats of J.C. Aragone, Ernests Gulbis, Coric, Paolo Lorenzi, and Querrey. The 28th-seeded South African has been broken only three times in five matches–twice by Lorenzi and once during a 7-6(5), 6-7(9), 6-3, 7-6(9) quarterfinal win over Querrey on Tuesday night.

As surprising as this matchup is, it has not come completely out of nowhere. Carreno Busta, a quarterfinalist at the French Open, is currently No. 7 in the live race to London among players who are not out for the season. Anderson’s summer already included a runner-up showing in Washington, D.C. and a quarterfinal appearance in Montreal.

“He’s had an amazing year,” Anderson said of his opponent. “Really consistent results now–at the French getting through to the quarters, and now through to the semis here. He’s definitely obviously very confident, so it will be an interesting match and (I’m) very excited to go out there, playing and competing in the semifinals…. This is new ground for both of us. There will be adjustments we both have to make.”

“(It) will be difficult to play against him again, but I think that now in this moment I am playing with more confidence,” Carreno Busta commented. “I am playing better than in Montreal.”

He’ll have to, because Anderson has also raised his level. The world No. 32 was unbreakable through three rounds of this U.S. Open and even against Lorenzi and Querrey he faced a grand total of four break points. Unlike Anderson vs. Querrey, a matchup of mirror images, this one features an intriguing contrast in styles. In these conditions, the offense of a red-hot Anderson will likely be too much for Carreno Busta’s baseline consistency.

Pick: Anderson in 4

15 Comments on U.S. Open SF preview and prediction: Carreno Busta vs. Anderson

    • Indian Wells is not “a major”. It’s a Masters. Some people might use the word “major” as an adjective to describe a tournament as big or prestigious, which Indian Wells is. However, in this case and in most cases, Ricky is using the word “major” as a noun. There are 4 majors- also called slams or (incorrectly) grand slams.

    • Rafa vs C-B (most certainly a viable possibility) is the only final where I would pick a winner with absolute confidence, lol!

  1. Anderson in 4. Has the bigger serve, more power and is a lot taller so will be able to dominate from the baseline on this surface.

  2. Putting my rent money on Anderson. That guy moves too well for a large power striker. He also rallies well with power.

    • Im surprised no one is attacking me for making this prediction yet. Maybe that will happen after the Nadal delPo match.

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