Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta aren’t exactly the prototypical Spanish tennis players we’ve come to know over the years. Unlike Rafael Nadal, and the former stalwarts of Spanish tennis—like Carlos Moya, Emilio Sanchez, David Ferrer, Juan Carlos Ferrero and many more—clay is neither Bautista Agut nor Carreno Busta’s preferred surface.
While RBA is dangerous on any court, statistically speaking, clay is his least successful surface. He hits his forehand with an Eastern grip, which makes attacking high balls extremely difficult—unless you have Roger Federer’s talent or Juan Martin del Potro’s height.
The more Eastern the grip, the lower you prefer to strike the ball. There’s a reason he’s so devastating on grass (he owns a 31-13 record on the surface).
Contrary to Nick Kyrgios’ baseless claim that “if clay didn’t exist, dude [PCB] wouldn’t even been close to Top 50,” Carreno Busta has done the bulk of his damage on hard courts. He owns three ATP hard-court titles and two US Open semifinal appearances.
While their game styles may not align with the Spanish tradition, their fighting spirit certainly does.
“We try to promote effort, discipline, hard work and respect,” former Davis Cup captain Emilio Sanchez said of Spain’s tennis mentality. “It’s kind of like a way of living.” Few players embody this lifestyle more than Bautista Agut and Carreno Busta.
On the court, these two grinders go all the way back to the ITF futures circuit in 2009, where the more experienced Bautista Agut taught an 18-year-old Carreno Busta a few lessons. On the ATP Tour, all four of their matches have gone the distance.
Neither player owns a dominant serve, so It’s safe to expect plenty of lung-busting rallies, as patience is a virtue for both players. Bautista Agut owns the better forehand, while Carreno Busta can inflict more damage with his textbook two-hander.
In the end your guess is as good as mine. According to Vegas, this match is a complete toss-up. The conditions in Paris are cold and wet, and the ball is bouncing lower than ever before. For that reason alone, expect Bautista Agut to edge his compatriot in what will surely be a tightly contested affair.
The Pick: Roberto Bautista Agut