Fixture: Rafael Nadal vs Pablo Carreno Busta
Date: 16 September 2020
Tournament: Italian Open 2020
Round: Second round (Round of 32)
Venue: Rome, Italy
Category: ATP Masters 1000
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: €3,465,045
Match timing: Not Before 7 pm CEST; 10:30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel / ESPN | India - Sony Six
Rafael Nadal vs Pablo Carreno Busta preview
Rafael Nadal will face fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta on Wednesday in the second round of the 2020 Rome Masters. The King of Clay is making his return to tennis after the lockdown, in his quest for an unprecedented 10th title at the Foro Italico.
Nadal usually comes into the Italian Open already zoned in on his favorite surface, looking to take the final step in his preparation for the French Open. But this time around, the World No. 2 is severely devoid of match practice; he hasn't played a competitive tennis match since winning the Acapulco title in March.
That said, the nine-time champion has looked fully fit in his practice videos, and is seemingly eager to get on the court again in the lead-up to the all-important French Open.
Nadal's opponent Pablo Carreno Busta recently arrived from the United States after another impressive showing at the US Open. He reached the semifinal there for the second time in his career, and even led eventual runner-up Alexander Zverev by two sets before losing in five.
The Spaniard didn't have to play in the opening round at Rome despite being unseeded, as he got a Performance Bye from the ATP for reaching the semifinals in New York.
Rafael Nadal vs Pablo Carreno Busta head-to-head
The head-to-head between Rafael Nadal and Pablo Carreno Busta currently stands at 5-0 in favor of Nadal.
Carreno Busta has only ever taken one set off his highly accomplished compatriot, which came in 2016 at Doha. Nadal hasn't had any trouble whatsoever in their previous three meetings on clay.
In their most recent meeting, at the 2020 Australian Open, Nadal dropped only seven games on his way to a comprehensive straight-sets victory.
Rafael Nadal vs Pablo Carreno Busta prediction
Looking at their previous matches, especially the ones on clay, there isn't much to worry for Rafael Nadal fans in this match.
While Pablo Carreno Busta is often a very tricky opponent, he simply doesn't possess enough weapons to hurt Nadal on clay. The 29-year-old does pretty much everything well on a tennis court, but lacks the venom in his groundstrokes to trouble the cream of the sport.
Nadal's biggest concern, however, would be his lack of match practice. As seen on several occasions in the past, the 19-time grand slam champion often starts slow and struggles to hit the ground running when playing after a while.
That could potentially hurt his chances of a completely untroubled win on Wednesday, especially since he is facing an opponent in red-hot form.
Prediction: Rafael Nadal to win in two tight sets.Published 16 Sep 2020, 00:42 IST