Thiem Tames Carreno Busta In Three
Dominic Thiem jolted his chances of making his first appearance in the semi-finals of the Nitto ATP Finals. The fourth seed collected his first win of the week on Wednesday, beating Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 at The O2.
The World No. 4 improved to 1-1 in London and will now play for a chance to reach the semi-finals on Friday against seventh seed David Goffin, who is also 1-1 after losing to Grigor Dimitrov 6-0, 6-2 earlier Wednesday. Dimitrov, 2-0, has won Group Pete Sampras and will play in the semi-finals on Saturday.
“I'm very happy and pleased that I get the chance to play for the semi-finals on Friday,” Thiem said. “We had some big, important matches in the past, also in the deep rounds of Slams. This one's going to be another one. We know each other very well. He played a very good match here, one very bad match. I don't know what to expect. I'm hoping that it's going to be a tough match, and I'm trying everything to go through to the semis.”
Thiem had been 1-14 against Top 10 players on hard courts. But his powerful groundstrokes pushed the World No. 10 Carreno Busta enough for the Austrian to record his second career win at the Nitto ATP Finals. Thiem went 1-2 last year during his debut.
Carreno Busta is an alternate and is taking the place of countryman Rafael Nadal, who withdrew from the season finale on Monday due to an injury to his right knee. But Carreno Busta looked very much like a player who deserved to be at the Nitto ATP Finals.
In the opening set, Thiem broke twice to take the early lead, and it looked as if fans would see another quick match on Wednesday. Thiem had never lost to Carreno Busta, owning a 4-0 record in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, including a straight-sets win in February during the final of the clay-court Rio Open presented by Claro.
But the 26-year-old debutant from Spain stole momentum early in the second, breaking in the third game and then again in the ninth game with some old-school serving and volleying to even the match. He pumped his fist and shouted "¡Vamos!" at his box. All of a sudden, Carreno Busta was one set away from joining rare company.
Four alternates had played on the main stage since the Nitto ATP Finals moved to London in 2009. But only one had won a match. Serbian Janko Tipsarevic shocked World No. 1 and countryman Novak Djokovic in 2011.
In a back-and-forth third set, though, Thiem was the last to grab momentum, breaking for a 5-4 lead and serving out the match. After his 12th ace on match point, he filled his cheeks and let out a long exhale – his semi-final hopes were still alive.