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Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain in action during his men’s singles second round match against Daniil Medvedev of Russia at the Kremlin Cup tennis tournament in Moscow, Russia, 19 October 2017. EPA-EFE/YURI KOCHETKOV



Ricky’s preview and pick for Wednesday at the World Tour Finals: Thiem vs. Carreno Busta


By Ricky Dimon


There will be a Spaniard on the opposite side of the net from Dominic Thiem on Wednesday night in London. It just won’t be Rafael Nadal.


Nadal, the world No. 1, is out. Pablo Carreno Busta, the No. 1 alternate, is in. Thus the second day of Nitto ATP World Tour Finals Group A round-robin competition will see Thiem and Carreno Busta square off for the fifth time in their careers at the ATP level.


Thiem is leading the head-to-head series 4-0. He has prevailed three times on their preferred clay-court surface, most recently via a 7-5, 6-4 result in the Rio de Janeiro final earlier this year. Their only previous hard-court contest came at last summer’s U.S. Open, where Thiem got the job done 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, 7-5.


The U.S. Open is where things started to go south for Thiem in a hurry this season. The Austrian advanced to the fourth round, but he led an illness-stricken Juan Martin Del Potro 6-1, 6-2 before melting down and failing to capitalize on two match points en route to a hard-to-believe 1-6, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(1), 6-4 setback. He has not yet recovered–although that may have more to do with the surface given that Thiem much prefers clay to an indoor hard court. The world No. 4 is 8-11 in his last 19 tournament matches after falling to Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 in his WTF opener on Monday.


“It was I think (a) way better performance than the last weeks–but still not perfect, obviously,” Thiem said after losing to Dimitrov. “I think it was pretty open until the end…. It would have been better to win the match, of course. But still, there are two more matches–two more chances. I think it’s [only] over when I cannot reach the semifinal anymore. That’s all what I think about now.”


Carreno Busta’s 2017 U.S. Open was also notable, as well, but for a much different reason than Thiem’s. PCB improbably went one step further than he did at Roland Garros, where he made a run to the quarters. He benefited from a favorable draw in New York to reach the semis, defeating Denis Shapovalov in round four and Diego Schwartzman in the quarters. The world No. 10 should have been on his way to direct World Tour Finals qualification thereafter, but he has been nothing short of hopeless this fall and that allowed Jack Sock to overtake him at the Rolex Paris Paris. Carreno Busta is a dreadful 1-6 in his last seven matches (1-5 in five post-U.S. Open events).


Somewhat surprisingly given his poor record indoors, Thiem has never played a particularly poor match in four previous outings at the O2 Arena. Last year he extended Novak Djokovic to three sets, beat Gael Monfils, and dropped a tight two-setter against Milos Raonic. He should be able to get the best of an opponent who is making an unexpected debut in this tournament, but it won’t be easy.


Pick: Thiem in 3

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.


Editors Note: If you have not seen “PABLO” play. You’ll be in for a treat. We just call him PABLO. Why ? Simple. He is Spanish. His full name is Pablo Carreno BUSTA. Ok. Nice name. For at least 3 years now his agent the same as RAFAs BENITO Perez has been trying to get the kid to drop the “BUSTA” portion of his surname. Benito kept saying to Pablo. Listen… Pablo Carreno. Pablo Carreno. Pablo Carreno. Nice ring right? And the kid just looked back at BENITO every time and said BUSTA! So this bit of a back story might explain why you see his name both ways. Same kid. Nice kid. And a future star for Spain.

P.S. I was sitting next to them for 90 minutes enjoying the whole show while trying to watch a tennis match. And occasionally being asked by BENITO, “I’m right, right?”

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