US Open: Pablo Carreno Busta ends Denis Shapovalov's run in three tiebreaks

Teen sensation Denis Shapovalov’s run at the 2017 US Open is over after losing his round of sixteen match to 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta. The young Canadian had some flashes of brilliance, but could not keep up with the consistent Spaniard who was untouchable late in each set. All three sets required tiebreaks, with Carreno Busta proving too strong in each one as he booked his place in the quarterfinals with a 7-6(2), 7-6(4), 7-6(3) victory.

Carreno Busta survives early threat

After getting off to a slow start in his last match, Shapovalov came out swinging in the fourth-round encounter, ripping a forehand winner at 30-all in the second game to set up a break point. He would send his return long before netting his return after a Carreno Busta double fault gave him a second look. The Canadian had to save a break point of his own in the fifth game, doing so with a slicing ace out wide, before getting a second chance at a break at 3-2. After a huge return set up a break point, the Spaniard netted his backhand to surrender the break.

Before long, Shapovalov found himself serving for the set at 5-3. All of a sudden, the teen fell apart under pressure, missing a series of forehands to set up double break point. Carreno Busta would fire a passing shot that caught the baseline to put the set back on serve. Shapovalov would rally and held a double break/set point opportunity on the Spaniard’s serve at 6-5, 15-40, but missed back to back forehands to level at deuce. He had a third look after a net cord went his way, but could not handle Carreno Busta’s serve.

Carreno Busta hits a forehand during his fourth round win. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Carreno Busta hits a forehand during his fourth round win. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

After surviving the first twelve games by the skin of his teeth, Carreno Busta took full advantage in the tiebreak. After the pair exchanged minibreaks to start the breaker, the Spaniard took advantage of even more forehand errors from Shapovalov, racing to a 6-1 lead. The Canadian saved the first set point, but sent another forehand long on the second, his 19th unforced errors in the opening set, to fall behind by a set for the second match in a row.

Shapovalov comeback falls short

The second set was practically identical to the opener, only with the roles reversed. It was Carreno Busta now controlling the rallies and pouring the pressure on his opponent. Shapovalov, on the other hand, continued to struggle and errors continued to cost him. Serving at 1-2, 30-all, he committed back-to-back forehand unforced errors to hand the early break to the Spaniard. Shapovalov would hold a break point in the following game to get it right back, but netted his backhand when staring down a surprise serve-and-volley from Carreno Busta.

Denis Shapovalov hits a forehand during his fourth round loss. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Denis Shapovalov hits a forehand during his fourth round loss. Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Just as the Canadian failed to serve out the opening set, Carreno Busta would follow suit in the second. Serving for it at 5-3, the Spaniard suddenly fell behind 0-40. He would save the first two, but Shapovalov put him away with a series of smashes to reclaim the break. The teen consolidated to level the set at 5-5. Once again, the set required a tiebreak, but that’s where the role-reversal stopped as it was again the Spaniard taking control. A backhand wide on the third point game Carreno Busta the minibreak and he never looked back, hanging on to his serve for a 6-3 lead. Shapovalov sent a forehand long on the second to fall behind two sets to love.

Carreno Busta battles into quarterfinals

Shapovalov very nearly let the set get away from him immediately, being forced to save a pair of break points in the opening game. He immediately turned the tables on the Spaniard, cracking a big return to set up a triple break point and grabbing the early lead when Carreno Busta sent a backhand long to surrender the love break. From deuce in the opening game, Shapovalov won twelve straight points to take a 3-0, 0-30 lead. He would hold a double break point in that game, but the Spaniard began to claw back with a hold.

Carreno Busta fires himself up during his fourth round win. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Carreno Busta fires himself up during his fourth round win. Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Missing the shot at a double break proved costly for the teen, as his good form deserted him in the next game, missing a backhand to set up break point and double faulting to put the set back on serve. At 4-4, the Canadian played one of his worst games of the match, missing three straight first serves and committing three straight unforced errors to give Carreno Busta a triple break point. However, Shapovalov mounted one last stand, drawing errors on the first two break points before saving the third with a textbook serve and volley to hold.

Once again, the set required a tiebreak and it was even more déjà-vu. Shapovalov double faulted on the first point to surrender the minibreak and Carreno Busta took full advantage. The Spaniard remained perfect on serve and added another minibreak when the Canadian sent a backhand long, stretching the lead to 4-0 before setting up five match points at 6-1. Shapovalov would save the first two on his own serve with unreturned serves, but Carreno Busta returned the favour on his first match point on his own serve, sealing his place in the quarterfinals with a service winner.

By the numbers

While Shapovalov more than doubled Carreno Busta’s winner total, 54 to 25, the young Canadian still committed too many unforced errors, 55 in total (to the Spaniard’s 29). While Shapovalov was better on his first serve, second serve points made a difference as the Canadian only managed 42 percent of his second serve points while Carreno Busta won 60 percent. Shapovalov will be left to regret only converting three of his 13 break point opportunities.

Carreno Busta is through to his second major quarterfinal of the season (Roland Garros). He will meet the winner between Lucas Pouille and Diego Schwartzman in the last eight.