In another rematch from Indian Wells, Kevin Anderson of South Africa again faces Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta. Despite a slow start to the season which saw him lose in the first round in Melbourne, Anderson has made three finals so far this year including in New York where he won the title. Carreno Busta has struggled for both form and fitness, but looks to have found something of both over the last three weeks. But who will reach the semifinals?
Anderson and Carreno Busta have met four times so far in their careers. The first match was contested five years ago in Casablanca where Anderson defeated the then 21-year-old Carreno Busta in straight sets. When their rivalry was renewed four years later at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, it was again Anderson who was victorious. The big South African hit his way through Carreno Busta and picked up a straight sets win, though he was pushed to a tiebreaker in the second.
The pair then faced off in what was surely the biggest match of both of their careers; the US Open semifinals. It was Carreno Busta who made the better start, with his baseline consistency frustrating Anderson. But after the first set Carreno Busta became less aggressive which allowed Anderson to dictate and the match duly swung in his favour as he won 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4. They also met in a three-set thriller last time out in Indian Wells with Anderson winning it in a deciding set tiebreak.
Path to the quarterfinals
Anderson, seeded sixth, received a first round bye and began his Miami Open against Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia. Basilashvili has become a consistent fixture in the top 100, but is rarely able to trouble the game’s best and was well-beaten by Anderson 4-6 3-6. Anderson then rebounded from dropping the first set against young Russian Karen Khachanov to win in three, 4-6 6-2 6-3. He then defeated the young American Frances Tiafoe 7-6 6-4.
Carreno Busta was dominant in his second round match after having received a first round bye. The 16th seed crushed Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin 6-1 6-0 to advance to the round of 32. There he faced American Steve Johnson who has fallen out of the top 50 but remains a dangerous opponent. But Carreno Busta was comfortable in a 6-4 6-4 win. Carreno Busta reached the quarterfinals with a convincing 6-0 6-3 win against countryman Fernando Verdasco, who seemed short of energy after a marathon match with Thanasi Kokkinakis in the previous round.
How do they match up?
In the past in this match up Carreno Busta has lost because he hasn’t been able to deal with Anderson’s power. But that in fact illustrates a tactical mistake the Spaniard is making. At the US Open in the semifinal, he was having success when he took the game to Anderson. Exposing Anderson’s defensive weakness rather than relying on his own defensive strength. Though forcing the issue is perhaps riskier due to the increased number of errors likely to be made, it is still essential.
If Carreno Busta tries to grind Anderson down, he will likely lose the match. Anderson has shown before that he is good enough off the ground to rally with most, but also possesses considerable firepower. If he is given time by an opponent, it is rare that he is unable to find a way through their defence. In Carreno Busta’s favour, however, are the court conditions. Miami is famed for it’s slow courts and they should aid Carreno Busta when he is trying to wrest back control of rallies from Anderson.
Anderson defeated Carreno Busta last week, but won’t be able to do the same again. Anderson was eventually beaten by Borna Coric, a player similar to Carreno Busta. Carreno Busta himself came close, pushing Anderson all the way to a deciding set tiebreak. And this time, in the punishing Miami conditions he will get the job done. Anderson won’t be able to hit through Carreno Busta in the slow conditions and Carreno Busta will surely win the fitness battle. And the match in three sets.
Who do you think will win the match? Let us know in the comments below!