“If clay didn’t exist, this guy wouldn’t even be Top 50.” The tweet released two years ago by Nick Kyrgios has something to smile about. Because Pablo Carreño Busta, winner Sunday in Montreal against Hubert Hurkacz (3-6, 6-3, 6-3) of the first Masters 1000 of his career, is not a Spaniard like the others. Born in Gijón, in Asturias (northern Spain), the new 14th player in the world (he was 23rd before his feat in Canada) has indeed completed his classes almost exclusively on hard, before his move at the age 15 years in Barcelona.
“Gijón is probably not the best place to play tennis in Spain due to the weather, but having started there was very important. It hardened me, says the thirty-something. I grew up on hard courts and it was only in Barcelona that I started to play more on clay. Although today I enjoy both surfaces, when the North American summer tour arrives, I immediately feel very good on the court. This is probably where I play my best tennis. »
an aggressive player
An aggressive player endowed with a dry strike and an often early ball grip – like his lifelong model David Ferrer -, Carreno Busta has thus won four of his seven ATP titles on hard courts (Winston-Salem and Moscow 2016, Chengdu 2019, Montreal 2022). It is also on this surface that the Spaniard has the best win/loss ratio (57% success), with in particular a bronze medal last summer at the Tokyo Olympics (thanks to victories against Daniil Medvedev and Novak Djokovic) and two Grand Slam semi-finals, at the US Open, in 2017 (beaten by South African Kevin Anderson) and in 2020 (beaten by German Alexander Zverev).
“He’s a comfortable player on hard court because he likes to dictate the game and he serves well”, declared that year Denis Shapovalov, dominated in five sets in the quarter-finals. Because the Spaniard is tall (1.88m), swift and relies on an exemplary physical condition. “I would say that my style of play is to try to be constantly aggressive, especially with my first ball, and to fight on all points, he said. On hard court, if you’re aggressive and don’t make unforced errors, you’re hard to beat. »
“So far, it was probably one of the worst seasons of my career”
This Sunday in Montreal, Hubert Hurkacz ended up getting frustrated against the opposing wall, both in return for service (71% of points won behind the Pole’s second ball) and from the baseline (only 10 unforced errors). First non-seeded player to win in Canada since Argentinian Guillermo Canas in 2002, Carreno Busta, author until then of a fairly average season (only one disputed final, in Barcelona) would never have imagined dominating in less than a week Matteo Berrettini (14th ATP), Holger Rune (26th), Jannik Sinner (12th), Jack Draper (82nd), Dan Evans (39th) and Hubert Hurkacz (10th). “So far, it was probably one of the worst seasons of my career, he laughs. Win a Masters 1000, it’s an incredible feeling. I’ve worked extremely hard my entire career to get here. » No offense to Nick Kyrgios.