World number two and defending Italian Open champion Rafael Nadal will kick-start his ATP campaign post the pandemic break when he takes on fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in the 2020 ATP Italian Open on Wednesday, September 16. The match will begin at around 7 pm local time (6 pm BST). Get the live streaming options of this Rafael Nadal v Pablo Carreno Busta match along with its preview, head to head, and tips here.
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Rafael Nadal v Pablo Carreno Busta Head to Head
The ‘King of Clay’ brings a clean 5-0 record against his countryman to their opening meeting in Rome. Their last meeting was at the 2020 Australian Open, where Nadal was in vintage form, prevailing in straight sets.
King Of Clay Returns
Nine-time Italian Open champion (including 2019) Rafa Nadal returns to Rome as the number two seed and a strong favorite to win another tournament at least ten times.
In addition to the Barcelona ATP 500, Monte Carlo ATP Masters and the French Open, this would be the fourth tournament where he would have double digit titles. Only Roger Federer with ten titles at Basel and Halle has won any tournament ten times or more.
Choosing to opt out of the three weeks of tennis in New York, i.e. the Western and Southern Open and the US Open, this will be Nadal’s official return to the tour since the Covid-19 hiatus. The year got off to a decent start for Nadal leading Spain to the ATP Cup finals, making the Australian Open quarter-finals and winning the ATP 500 Mexican Open at Acapulco.
With 19 grand slam titles in his bag, Nadal returns to his favorite surface in search of what would be a 13th French Open and a 20th major title, that would put him at par with Roger Federer’s Grand Slam count.
The world number two will look to this week at Rome as an important one to get essential match practice and confidence ahead of the last scheduled major of the year, on the red dirt at Roland Garros in less than a fortnight from now.
Carreno Busta High On Confidence After US Open
Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta had a promising 2017 and was ranked number 10 in the world by year-end, a season which saw him make the French Open quarter-finals and the US Open semi-finals.
2018 and a good portion of 2019 saw a host of injuries and disappointing losses for the Spaniard, which resulted in a drop in rankings, as he attempted to make a comeback in mid-late 2019, where he did well to win the Chengdu Open ATP 250, among other good showings.
After a disappointing start to the year in Australia and an early loss in Montpellier, Carreno Busta was a semi-finalist at the Rotterdam ATP 500, before the season was paused for the Covid-19 pandemic. After a third-round exit at the Western & Southern Open, the Spaniard made a shaky start at the US Open, but then got stronger as the tournament improved.
Carreno Busta had a slice of luck in the fourth round, where world number one Novak Djokovic was defaulted out of the match, and the Spaniard won a marathon against Denis Shapovalov to win the quarter-final in five sets. He was up two sets to love against Alexander Zverev in the semi-final and looking good for a first ever major final, before he lost the match in five sets.
It was an impressive showing overall by Carreno Busta, who is now back in the top 20 of the ATP rankings and will look to make the adjustment to clay timely, as he comes in confident with ample match practice in New York.
Nadal v Carreno Busta Prediction and Tip
Although Carreno Busta comes in as a Grand Slam semi-finalist from last week and Nadal has not played competitive tennis in six months, it is clay, it is Rome and it is Rafa Nadal. The world number may start a little rusty, but he will be in control soon enough and win the match in straight sets comfortably.
Tip: Nadal to win in straight sets : 2/9 (bet365)