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ATP Tennis • Pablo Carreno Busta Wins Incident-Marred Match Against Grigor Dimitrov, Rafa Nadal Also Wins In Barcelona

Spanish tennis player Pablo Carreno returns the ball to Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov during their quarterfinals match at Barcelona Open Trofeo Conde de Godo in Barcelona, northeastern Spain, 27 April 2018. EPA-EFE/ALEJANDRO GARCIA



By Ricky Dimon


Grigor Dimitrov vs. Pablo Carreno Busta in the quarterfinals of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell was not without incident.


It took a surprisingly sour turn with Dimitrov serving at 2-4 in the second-set tiebreaker. The world No. 5 fired a first serve that looked like it may have been long, to which Carreno Busta replied with a soft backhand return. As Dimitrov approached the net to hit what should have been a routine forehand volley, Carreno Busta appeared to stop playing–either because he thought the serve was out or because he assumed that the Bulgarian would hit an easy winner on the ensuing shot.


Dimitrov ended up netting his swinging volley, after which he protested that Carreno Busta had stopped the point.


Chair umpire Carlos Bernardes awarded the point to Carreno Busta–correctly so, given that there had been no official stoppage of play–and that seemed to be the end of things. But it escalated during the post-match handshake following Carreno Busta’s 6-3, 7-6(4) win.


Dimitrov told the world No. 11 that “as a man” he should have admitted to stopping the point. “I will remember this,” he assured. When Carreno Busta tried to explain his side of things, Dimitrov quipped, “Don’t talk to me.”


Whatever the case, Carreno Busta is through to a semifinal showdown against Stefanos Tsitsipas. The 19-year-old Greek has announced his arrival on tour in 2018 and is quickly showing that clay may be his favorite surface. He kicked off the clay-court swing with a second-round showing in Monte-Carlo as a qualifier and has advanced this week by defeating Corentin Moutet, Diego Schwartzman, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, and Dominic Thiem.


On the other side of the draw, Rafael Nadal and David Goffin will be squaring off for the fourth time in their careers. They faced each other twice during the clay-court swing last season, when Nadal prevailed 6-3, 6-1 in the Monte-Carlo semis and 7-6(3), 6-2 in the Madrid quarters. Nadal almost improved to 3-0 lifetime in the head-to-head series at the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals despite the fact that he was playing on his least favorite surface (an indoor hard court) and with a knee injury that forced him out of the tournament after one match (Goffin ended up prevailing 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-4).


The Spaniard is a 10-time champion and owner of a 56-3 record in Barcelona. He has extended his clay-court set streak to 42 in a row following victories over Roberto Carballes Baena, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, and Martin Klizan. Goffin required almost seven hours of work during a trio of three-setters to book his place in the semifinals. The Belgian made comebacks against Marcel Granollers, Karen Khachanov, and Roberto Bautista Agut.


It’s safe to say a fourth straight win over Nadal will be too tough of a task.


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

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