Pablo Carreno Busta advanced to his first ATP Tour championship match since 2017 on Saturday, defeating Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 6-4 at the Chengdu Open.
The Spaniard withstood 12 aces from the eighth seed to claim victory after 63 minutes, securing a single break in each set to snap a six-match losing streak in tour-level semi-finals. Competing in his 40th tour-level encounter of the season, Carreno Busta improves to 23-17 this year.
“I lost [semi-finals] in Antalya and Hamburg this year. Finally, I can win a semi-final to be in a final,” said Carreno Busta. “I am excited to play my first final of the year tomorrow.”
The 28-year-old focussed his attack on Shapovalov’s forehand to clinch the first break of the match. Carreno Busta broke serve to love with a crosscourt forehand passing shot to earn a 4-2 lead and maintained his advantage to seal the set after 30 minutes.
The three-time ATP Tour titlist manufactured his only break point of the second set at 3-3, ripping a backhand return winner to move just two games from victory. Carreno Busta booked his place in the final on his first match point with a powerful serve to Shapovalov’s forehand.
Shapovalov was aiming to reach his first ATP Tour championship match. The 20-year-old Canadian also advanced to the last four in Miami and Winston-Salem this year.
”In the first game of the match, I saved two break points and maybe it was the key… He served really good during a lot of the match, but in the two games where I had break points, I broke serve,” said Carreno Busta.
Carreno Busta will attempt to lift his first ATP Tour trophy since the 2017 Millennium Estoril Open when he meets Alexander Bublik in the championship match. The Spaniard leads Bublik 1-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series after winning their only previous encounter at the VTB Kremlin Cup.
“Alex is a tough player. He serves really good with his first and second serves… I need to be very focussed, try to win my service games and then wait for the moment and take advantage of my opportunities,” said Carreno Busta.
Bublik reached his second tour-level final of the year by beating Lloyd Harris 7-6(6), 6-4. The Newport runner-up landed 21 aces throughout the 85-minute contest to record his 14th win in 24 tour-level matches this year.
“I played a great match… I am very happy to get through and I am looking forward to the final,” said Bublik.
Bublik will be aiming to join the list of first-time winners on the ATP Tour this season. The most recent player to join the list — Hubert Hurkacz — became the 14th maiden champion of the year following his title run at the Winston-Salem Open last month.