Pablo Carreno Busta’s game is not flashy, but it certainly is effective.
The Spaniard advanced to his second consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final on Monday when he defeated German Daniel Altmaier 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 to reach the last eight at Roland Garros. It is his second quarter-final on the Parisian terre battue (2017).
Carreno Busta used his typically solid baseline game to frustrate Altmaier, winning nine consecutive games from 2-5 in the second set to end the qualifier’s dream run after two hours and 22 minutes. The 17th seed landed 85 per cent of his first serves, eager to start rallies and grind down his first-time opponent.
The 22-year-old Altmaier was trying to become the first man to make the quarter-finals on his Grand Slam debut in 24 years, but he couldn’t harness his aggressive game for long enough stretches to put the 17th seed into serious discomfort. In his straight-sets win against seventh seed Matteo Berrettini, the Italian made 42 unforced errors. But Carreno Busta gave him almost nothing for free, making just 27 unforced errors.
The four-time ATP Tour titlist recently made his second US Open semi-final. But if he is to reach the last four at Roland Garros for the first time, he will have to go through top seed Novak Djokovic. The Serbian leads their ATP Head2Head rivalry 3-1.
If his performance against Altmaier was any indication, Carreno Busta will make Djokovic work. He was relentless in his defence against the World No. 186, and any time Altmaier reduced his aggression, the 17th seed stepped in and took control of points, hitting 44 winners, seven more than his opponent.
In the second set, it appeared Altmaier had settled in and was ready to challenge Carreno Busta. The German beautifully attacked his one-handed backhand, especially cross-court, often dragging the Spaniard out of position. But when he served to level the match at one set apiece, Altmaier got tight. He misfired a forehand down the line that landed well into the doubles alley, and that was the only slip Carreno Busta needed.
The former World No. 10 immediately broke in the third set when Altmaier missed a forehand, then he rushed forward to put away a backhand for a second break in the set. Carreno Busta cruised from there.
Altmaier was trying to become the lowest-ranked Roland Garros quarter-finalist since World No. 200 Henri Leconte in 1992, but it was still a tournament to remember for the German. He had never previously played qualifying at a Grand Slam, but he showed plenty of talent en route to the second week of the main draw.
Did You Know?
With Carreno Busta completing the Roland Garros quarter-final line-up, three players who reached the last eight at the US Open are also into the same stage in Paris: Carreno Busta, Dominic Thiem and Andrey Rublev.