Thursday treated us well again, as Jaziri ran Dimitrov very close, and should have won the match, squandering match points in the final set tiebreak. He took a lead in set 1 before losing it 7-5, and then took the second set 6-3, i’m sure the Tunisian will be having a few nightmares after this loss.
Tsitsipas beat Ramos in straight sets also, 6-4 7-5 and it’s the Greek youngster whom we are also going to focus on in today’s match preview.
Tsitsipas faces the Spaniard Pablo Carreno-Busta in the Semi Finals of the Barcelona clay court event today, and i think it has all the makings of a fantastic match.
Tsitsipas – ATP Barcelona Semi Final
This is the first meeting between these two, but both are extremely comfortable on the clay,
Tsitsipas hasn’t dropped a set all week, beating Moutet, Schwartzman, Ramos and Thiem on route to the Semi’s
Carreno-Busta has defeated Paire, Mannarino and Dimitrov so far, however something to consider is this,Paire beat himself against Carreno-Busta, Mannarino pushed him all the way and should have won and Dimitrov, who had looked poor all week and was shocking against Carreno-Busta yesterday. To summarise, i’m not sure he’s had a REAL challenge yet. Tsitsipas on the other hand has beaten a number of ‘clay specialists’ in Schwartzman, Ramos and Thiem, so I just feel like the Greek player is slightly better prepared for this one as far as competitive match play is concerned.
Let’s take a look at the serving stats for the two players from the tournament so far:
Tsitsipas Barcelona Open Serving Stats:
67% Service points won
89% service hold
Carreno-Busta Barcelona Open Serving Stats:
63% Service points won
79% service hold
Tsitsipas certainly has the stronger serve of the two players, and this is shown clearly by these stats, what makes these even more impressive is that the players he has played have pretty decent return stats. I expect the Greek player to go well on serve today and I would be surprised if he is broken more than twice throughout the match.
Carreno-Busta has a decent serve, but he won’t be winning many free points off it. He will need to keep his first serve % high today, in order to prevent himself being under too much pressure regularly.
Tsitsipas Barcelona Open Return Stats:
47% Return points won
50% Break points won
Carreno-Busta Barcelona Open Return Stats:
44% Return points won
52% Break points won
Both players look pretty even on the return of serve stats, with the Spaniard just edging the break point conversion %. I expect both players to put the ball in play a fair bit off the return, and it’s who can look to dictate the rally off that first ball that could well decide the match here today.
Tsitsipas will play from the back of the court and can attack of either wing at any moment. His single handed backhand is a thing of beauty when firing, and he can hit it with heavy tospin or flatten it out and strike it down the line for winners. I do see his topspin backhand, cross-court to Carreno-Busta’s backhand being a key play today, the Spaniard may well find it difficult to hit his double-hander from above shoulder height with enough depth, consistently to prevent Tsitsipas from dictating play – look out for this pattern of play today.
Carreno-Busta will look to counter punch where he can, he has actually being playing a lot more aggressively this week to what we are used to. He will make plenty of balls back into play and will play quite deep beyond the baseline. There have been no signs of a recurrence of his back injury this week, which is a good sign, but I just wonder if he is going to be able to be aggressive enough, often enough to take this game out of Tsitsipas’ control.
I was surprised to see Carreno-Busta as a pretty strong favourite here, I actually make Tsitsipas a slight favourite, and I think the stats above help to add weight to that claim. I do expect a close match, could well be three sets but I expect the Greek superstar to advance to his first Main Tour Final.