Pablo Carreno Busta reached his first ATP Masters 1000 and National Bank Open final after registering a 7-5, 6-7(7), 6-2 victory over Daniel Evans in the semifinal, here.
The 31-year-old had a match point in the second-set tie-break but saw his perfect set streak on the week snapped at nine before storming back in a dominant final set on Saturday night.
After so little separated the competitors for most of the two-hour, 58-minute marathon, Carreno Busta raced through the finish line by winning the final 12 points, including eight on return.
“It was fun for the crowd but for me it was tough. I had a match point in the second set but he served pretty good so I couldn’t do anything. When you have a match point and have to play another set, it’s always hard to do it,” said Carreno Busta about the gripping encounter.
“Mentally I think I was very good. Probably the beginning of the third set was the hardest part of the match. But after that I thought I had to be more aggressive, try to push a lot, try to go to the net, and it was good,” he added.
The Spaniard will next face eighth seed Hubert Hurkacz as he bids to become the first unseeded champion at the National Bank Open since Argentina’s Guillermo Canas in 2002.
The World No 23 advanced to his second final of the season (Barcelona) by pairing his aggressive baseline game with a dominant first-serve performance in which he won 79 per cent (49/62) of points on his first delivery. He fired 43 winners and broke on five of his eight chances as he took control of the match down the stretch.
Despite neither player being seeded, this semi-final was a heavyweight fight complete with both men hitting the deck after being wrong-footed in a bruising rally. After Evans fell earlier in the match, Carreno Busta slipped late in the second-set tie-break to hand a mini-break back to Evans.
The 31-year-old Carreno Busta knocked off seeded Italians Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner to kickstart his Montreal run, a welcome change from what he called “probably the worst year of my career”. He now has a chance to claim his seventh and biggest ATP Tour title.
Carreno Busta moved up 14 spots to 15th place in the ATP Live Race To Turin this week, with a chance to move up to 11th with the title. He and Hurkacz split their two previous ATP Head to Head meetings, both in 2021, with the Spaniard winning in Cincinnati and Hurkacz victorious in the Metz final.
That week in Metz, Hurkacz also won the doubles title with fellow Pole Jan Zielinski. His hopes of repeating that title sweep in Montreal were ended Saturday by Evans and John Peers in the semi-finals, where the British-Australian pair defeated Hurkacz and Zielinski 7-5, 4-6, 10-4.