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After two great matches, Andrey Rublev reaches the Hamburg semis to play Pablo Carreno Busta.
After two great matches, Andrey Rublev reaches the Hamburg semis to play Pablo Carreno Busta.|

Saturday Hamburg Open semis: Abrams picks Carreno Busta vs. Rublev, Zverev vs. Basilashvili

Matches start at 7:25 am, EDT.

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

Hamburg European Open

Hamburg, Germany

Friday, July 26, 2019

Men’s Semis

Pablo Carreno Busta over Andrey Rublev

Both of these guys came through quarterfinal matches with HUGE wins over Top Ten players. Rublev took out the top seed, Dominic Thiem 7-6, 7-6, with a display of groundstroke tennis I’ve not seen from him. To be able to topple Thiem, the second best clay courter in the world, is a remarkable win, and one that should infuse him with a lot of confidence. If anything, it will surely serve notice to his clay court opponents as to what he is capable of. Carreno Busta, however, got a lot of help in beating Fabio Fognini by Fognini himself. Fognini had Carreno Busta down a set, 2-0, and break point, but as Fognini started to implode, Carreno Busta put his head down and kept the ball in play, allowed Fognini to ignite, and ultimately fought to the bitter end, to come up with his seventh victory over Fognini without dropping one match. It was an impressive win that obviously could have gone either way, as the 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 score would indicate, but one that I’m sure neither of the combatants will forget.

Rublev currently holds two career victories over Carreno Busta, both in three sets, and both in 2015, and I think Carreno Busta will desperately want to get in the win column against the Russian. Yet, after the kind of display Rublev showed yesterday, I wonder if Carreno Busta has it in him to outlast the man who beat Thiem. We’ll see, but Carreno Busta’s victory over the Fabulous Fognini was impressive enough that I think he’s got it in him to beat Rublev here and now.

Sascha Zverev over Nikoloz Basilashvili

I mentioned before that Nikoloz Basilashvili really hasn’t impressed me. He came into this tournament with a losing record for the year, and how he is ranked as high as he is, at No. 16, is beyond me. But he’s come through three matches that, realistically, he could have lost, as each of his opponents here were good players. He had little trouble taking out Hugo Dellien 4 and 3, then gave up the second set but overcame the tough clay courter Juan Ignacio Londero, before he schooled Jeremy Chardy 2 and 3 in the quarters. It looked like he elevated his play when he had to, and has advanced into the semis with this enticing matchup against German Sascha Zverev. Zverev made a monumental comeback in dispatching Serbian Filip Krajinovic after being down 6-2, 5-2. Zverev held serve to 3-5 in that second set, broke, with the help of a boisterous German crowd to make it 4-5, held again, and then Krajinovic simply imploded. Zverev played the first half of the match with little zeal and less quality, but something rose up inside of him, helped by the tentativeness of his Serbian opponent, when the lights were almost out, and Zverev somehow escaped his imminent doom with one of the most improbable wins I’ve seen in a while. Now, the German will face Basilashvili, whom he holds a 2-0 lifetime advantage over. This one is simple to predict. If Zverev plays like he did the first set and a half against Krajinovic, he’ll be embarrassed. If he plays with the confidence and style with which he finished off his quarterfinal match, he’ll win. I think this match depends on Zverev, and Basilashvili is just in a supporting role.