Sep/20

10

Is the best player in the world right now Pablo Carreno Busta?

Pablo Carreno Busta did something this week that you rarely see happen in professional tennis. From a dire straits situation he turned the tables on the best player in the world and provoked him to lose his mind and suffer a major meltdown on the world stage.

Novak Djokovic was in control of Carreno Busta in the US Open fourth round, while ahead 5-4 and 40-love.

At that point, suddenly it was Carreno Busta who summoned an astonishing level of tennis. He unleashed a desperation forehand that nipped the baseline by a centimeter on the first set point. He outrallied Djokovic on the next four points and stole the game for 5-5.

Djokovic, shocked by the quality of play by the man he lead 3-0 in head to head matches, continued to fall apart mentally and physically. Djokovic was broken at love for 6-5. Having lost control of the match, the set, Djokovic then lost control of his mind and fired a tennis ball to the rear wall where he knew the linesperson and ballkid were stationed and hit the female official in the throat. He was disqualified from the match.

The controversial ending of the duel overshadowed the spectacular play by Carreno Busta, under the most extreme pressure any tennis player could face – down triple set point on serve to the reigning world’s best player.

There are a few speculations the experts could surmise from this unexpected turn of events. Did Djokovic suffer a rare mental lapse at age 33, a newly emerged chink insecurity in his armor? Or was this just a lapse of complance caused partly by the dead stadium atmosphere that can and will be quickly corrected?

Did the Spaniard come of age in that most opportune moment, to suddenly shine his finest tennis, like certain veteran players unusually do at an advanced age?

Think about Thomas Muster becoming world no. 1 at age 28 in 1996.

Andres Gomez won his first major at age 31.

Victor Estrella Burgos reached the top 100 for the first time at age 33.

Carreno Busta followed up the Djokovic victory with a five set win vs Denis Shapovalov. Now he will play Alexander Zverev in the US Open semifinals (his second major semi – US Open 2017).

Carreno Busta is 29 now, he’s won four ATP singles titles and his best ranking was no. 10 in 2017 (he’s currently at no. 27 but will shoot up higher because he lost in the 3R last year).

It’s been speculated that Carreno Busta has benefitted the most from the no-crowd atmosphere of this year’s edition of the US Open. He’s always been a low-key personality who competes in an introverted manner like a robot, seemingly uninterested in exciting tennis fans or using crowd energy for his own favor.

Now at the precipice of reaching his first Grand Slam singles final, Carreno Busta has to get by Alexander Zverev, an opponent he’s played just once, a 76 62 loss at Miami Open two years ago, also in the semifinal stage.

But Carreno Busta may have a psychological advantage right now that nobody can see, sense or measure, perhaps not even himself. Pablo Carreno Busta may actually be the best player in the world right now.

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23 comments

  • Cory Minto · September 10, 2020 at 6:36 pm

    Absolutely love PCB. Good on all surfaces and marksman-accurate on baseline rallies, often outgunning guys with far more weaponry. He can be annoying to opponents, tracking nearly everything down. It was heartbreaking to see him melt down and lose the AO to Nishikori 2 years ago… unlike him, as he is usually mentally strong (he still shoulda won it even after the controversy). I hope he can beat Zverev who at times lack the mental game. I believe that PCB is mentally strong and will outlast the temperamental Zverev. PCB in 5.

    Interesting what Djokovich’s former coach said (was it Becker?) about Djokovic being frustrated without crowd support. He seems like a likeable guy otherwise, so IMO it’s not that Djokovic is unlikeable, it’s that Federer is SO likeable and Murray and Nadal so incredible to watch and root for. Personally I find Djokovic’s game very boring to watch, albeit so technically sound. Nadal’s and Federer’s games are full of excitement, on the contrary. So is their demeanor inspiring and fun to watch. Djokovic is a mental giant for sure, but that’s not easily marketable.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 10, 2020 at 10:41 pm

    Cory, Djokovic suffers from following two greats syndrome, like Larry Holmes never got his just due respect after following Muhammad Ali. Holmes IMO was actually better than Ali, better jab, better fighter, not by much but superior. ALi was just far more popular and beloved and charismatic but Holmes was better. But far less marketable. Djokovic is also a tough sell, it’s been impossible to surpass Fed and Rafa but somehow Djokovic has done it! But he will never be universally accepted and embraced until he’s years after he’s retired. Like Larry Holmes kind of was. Pablo Carreno Busta is a great player, totally overshadowed by the 3 goats and other more colorful, controversial types like Kyrgios, Stan the man, etc. PCB could be emerging before our eyes. I’ve always been super impressed by PCBs game and competing manners. Class act, great player. He’s 1-2 vs Medvedev but he won their lone outdoor hard meeting in Miami 61 75 in 2018.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 10, 2020 at 10:44 pm

    Brady was very good tonight but Osaka was fantastic, so smooth, so fast, so explosive. Brady looked slightly afraid to beat the golden child darling of the media. I didnt like seeing her facial smirks which convey negative energy. She does this too much through the match. But there is silent pressure against anyone Serena and Osaka play. This tournament is not just about tennis, it’s also a lot about pushing politics and BLM which is a terrorist organization. BJK came on live for an interview and she said it’s great that any player can speak up now. But if Brady walked on court with a shirt saying ALL LIVES Matter she would be crucified by the world media and tennis media. So BJK was not being honest by saying anyone can speak up Brady is a great player, we will see her again in big match situations.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 10, 2020 at 10:46 pm

    As expected, Azarenka or Tankarenka is rolling over for Serena. USTA desperately wants an Osaka Serena final. Everybody with half a functioning frontal lobe can sense that. The 2020 US Open is about tennis and pushing politics down our throats.

  • Cory Minto · September 11, 2020 at 1:02 am

    I felt the same way Scoop… but then Serena became a mistake machine. Getting broken right after that 3rd set, 0-1, 40-40 MTO… a killer. Several times later in the set Serena had 0-30 or 15-30 on the Azarenka serve but couldn’t get serves in play. Tennis is funny sometimes. Vika was rolling over like an obedient puppy in the first set – and 2 sets later, absolutely BOSSING Williams around. It’s cruel.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 11, 2020 at 7:54 am

    Maybe she tanked the first set. Aza was awful in the first set. Serena looked poor all tournament. Just flashes of her once great game. Pironkova zero intensity and sloanes smile at handshake looked suspicious. Serena is washed up and can only win 24 if it’s fixed for her.

  • Sam · September 11, 2020 at 11:24 am

    Wow, I knew Azarenka had a chance, but didn’t know if she could actually pull it off. Good for her!! 🙂 As for Mr. Williams, time to go work on his golf game, I guess. 😉

    That’s very interesting what you wrote, Scoop, about Pironkova and Stephens. Do you really think they could’ve been paid off??

    Speaking of 24 Grand Slams, any new info on a potential Biofile with Margaret Court? Hopefully your connection is getting you somewhere.

  • Sam · September 11, 2020 at 11:29 am

    Cory wrote:

    “it’s that Federer is SO likeable”

    Federer likable?? Now, his tennis is certainly effortless and impressive. But his personality and general conduct???

    Anyway, Scoop, I don’t think your idea about Carrena Busta is so out there. As you say, he may well be playing the best tennis in the men’s field at the moment. Tonight will likely clue us in. 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 11, 2020 at 11:32 am

    Sam, PCB is playing possibly the best tennis in the world right now. We’ll see. If he wins the title, it will affirm it. Then what happens, who knows. Does PCB have the mental constitution to want to dominate and rule the ATP? Or would he he content with one major? Bottom line is he’s playing incredible tennis right now, and it’s a shame that fact was overshadowed by Djokovic’s mental breakdown meltdown which his play provoked.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 11, 2020 at 11:40 am

    Sam, to see Sloane smile at Serena at the handshake was bizarre, given their history and rivalry which was pretty icy. Sloane is usually cold and stoic at all of her handshakes. She very rarely smiles on court, especially after losing a big match. Pironkova’s intensity and emotional adrenaline for the biggest match of her career was zero. Very strange. She also hit a lot of what looked like feed balls to Serena, easy feeds. And silly stupid errors which all added up to look like a tank job to let the money maker advance. Remember Pivaronkova probably needs the money, she hasn’t earned a big WTA check in years. Azarenka is said to be worth $30m so she would be a lot more expensive to manipulate. Yes I’m suspicious of these Serena matches and the QF and Sf last year where she beat Wang 60 61 (then lost to her months later in AO) and beat Svitolina easy, remember Elina said in her press conference after that she made her flight reservation to China the day before. She knew she was going to lose. Yes I smell some monkey business with these Serena matches at US Open. She draws huge ratings and huge profits for USTA when she makes the final. Imagine how bad the ratings would have been for a Pironkova vs Brady final. I will get Margaret Court Biofile!

  • Sam · September 11, 2020 at 11:46 am

    “I didnt like seeing her facial smirks which convey negative energy. She does this too much through the match.”

    Scoop, can you please be a little more specific about what you mean by this? Did Brady do this in her earlier matches too?

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 11, 2020 at 11:56 am

    Sam, I’m not sure exactly if she did it much when she was winning. I don’t remember it being as pronounced as yesterday. But to her defense, it was a lot more challenging and demanding and stressful playing Osaka yesterday than her previous rounds to the semi. To elaborate, Brady would flash a half second facial smirk, which I interpreted to look like negativity. Osaka was all positive, eager, hungry, hitting her thigh to motivate herself before returns. Osaka had better body language. Brady’s was good save for those smirks but she looked destined to lose from the middle of the first set based on body language.

  • Todd Shea Robinson · September 11, 2020 at 2:16 pm

    The guy playing the best right now is Thiem….he’s such a beast. Phenomenal offense and aggression, and ridiculous, very underrated defense. I think he takes Med down in 4, then cruises over whoever wins the PCB/AZ match. AZ is so mental, I like PCB at +200, now +220…

  • Sam · September 12, 2020 at 9:04 pm

    “and beat Svitolina easy, remember Elina said in her press conference after that she made her flight reservation to China the day before.”

    Why was Svitolina headed to China? For another tournament?

    “She knew she was going to lose. Yes I smell some monkey business with these Serena matches at US Open. She draws huge ratings and huge profits for USTA when she makes the final.”

    I wouldn’t put it past the USTA. And if this is true, then shame also on any players who agreed to participate in such match fixing.

    Too bad about Carreno Busta. I heard that his stamina was the biggest problem.

    “I will get Margaret Court Biofile!”

    That’s great! I guess she eventually decided that you’re one of the few journalists she can actually trust not to do a hit job!! 😉

  • Sam · September 12, 2020 at 9:06 pm

    “Brady’s was good save for those smirks but she looked destined to lose from the middle of the first set based on body language.”

    Well, losing to the eventual champ is nothing to be ashamed of at least.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 13, 2020 at 8:51 am

    Yes Svitolina made her flight reservation to go to China the day before losing to Serena, for the next tournament. You can read her quotes saying it at the post match US Open press conference vs Serena.

    Q. You have some points, maybe a little bit of pressure heading into Asia. How will you handle that heading into Asia?
    ELINA SVITOLINA: Well, how I prefer, I have a flight on Saturday to go to Zhengzhou. I’m going to play my match on Tuesday or Wednesday. I have no time for preparation.

    I’m going to recover and see how it goes because been little bit having some issues with my knee, which again I don’t want to go back into what was in the summer, which is tough.

    I will see how it goes, my health. I’m now going to play few tournaments in China. They’re very important, of course. I’m trying to get back in Shenzhen.

  • Sam · September 13, 2020 at 4:40 pm

    Thanks for the info, Scoop. Actually, how do we know exactly *when* Svitolina made the reservation? Of course, I doubt she had time to make it right after the match. 😉 But all we know is that she’d made it before the match, right? In other words, she could’ve made it that same morning?

    Either way, very suspicious. 😛

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 13, 2020 at 9:49 pm

    Zverev may have read this article. Before the final he said: “The two best players in the world are going to be playing on court.”

    Zverev beat PCB. I agree with Zverev )

  • Sam · September 14, 2020 at 10:55 am

    Scoop, I was thinking more about Svitolina’s comment. Is it possible that she had “tentatively” booked a flight for that Saturday, just in case she lost? Can you actually do that with an airline ticket?

    Also, have you ever heard another tennis player make a statement like that before? It would certainly have made more sense for her to say something like, “Now that I’ve lost, I’m going to try to get a flight on Saturday to China.”

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 14, 2020 at 11:15 am

    Sam I think the players know the media would never challenge them with a dangeorus question like that, the players know they are protected. She just felt brave enough to put it right out there. It’s kind of an inside running joke about making flights before the match, it was written about in Hard Courts book by John Feinstein. And I remember Andrei Pavel did it before an Agassi match at US Open. Don’t remember how I heard about it but I do remember hearing it and still remember it.

  • Sam · September 14, 2020 at 11:34 pm

    “It’s kind of an inside running joke about making flights before the match, it was written about in Hard Courts book by John Feinstein. And I remember Andrei Pavel did it before an Agassi match at US Open. Don’t remember how I heard about it but I do remember hearing it and still remember it.”

    Very interesting. So what does this all mean? 🙂 That some matches are fixed?

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 15, 2020 at 9:06 am

    Sam, no but some players just know they are going to lose – or they know they have to lose.

  • Sam · September 15, 2020 at 4:10 pm

    “Sam, no but some players just know they are going to lose – or they know they have to lose.”

    Okay, it appears that you don’t want to actually use the “F-word,” Scoop, but that sounds a lot like fixing to me. LOL. 🙂

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