2017 is a year to remember for Pablo Carreño Busta, though ironically he wouldn’t want to be reminded of his year-end struggles. Nonetheless, the Spaniard successfully ended the year inside the world’s top-10, and he has labeled himself as one of the best players in the world currently.
Win-loss record: Best career year
Although Carreño Busta had an impressive year, he surprisingly owned a disappointing 35-24 (.593) win-loss record in 2017. However, that could also be accredited to the fact that he ended the year losing eight of his last nine matches, undermining all his successes earlier. Carreño Busta earned his first and only top-10 win of his career thus far at the French Open, and also made his debut at the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals.
High Points of season: New career-high ranking, maiden Major semifinal
Amidst a disappointing start to the year, Carreño Busta seemed to have found his groove on his favored clay-courts, reaching consecutive semifinals in Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, falling to the eventual champions Alexandr Dolgopolov, Dominic Thiem, and Pablo Cuevas respectively. He also saved a match point in Rio to defeat youngster Casper Rudd, reaching his first final of the year.
His first breakthrough result of 2017 came at the BNP Paribas Open, storming to his first Masters 1000 semifinal, saving another match point along the way and this time it came against Pablo Cuevas, avenging his defeat from the previous week. However, his dream week came to a sudden halt in the hands of world number three Stan Wawrinka, winning only five games during the encounter.
Carreño Busta’s sole title of the year came in Estoril, where he triumphed as the top-seed. His campaign was nothing less than impressive as he reached the final at the same tournament in the second consecutive year, doing so without losing a set on both occasions. This time, he bettered his previous best performance, defeating third seed Gilles Muller in the final. With his run, it ensured that he reached the semifinals in every edition of the Estoril Open.
After a lengthy wait, he finally made his mark at a Major tournament, reaching his first Grand Slam quarterfinal at Roland Garros. During his run, he impressively defeated world number 11 Grigor Dimitrov in straight sets (7-5, 6-3, 6-4) before creating a huge upset against Milos Raonic in a marathon four-hours, 17-minutes for his first career top-10 win. However, he sustained an abdominal injury which forced him to retire in his quarterfinal match against Rafael Nadal.
Carreño Busta reached greater heights in his career when he broke new grounds to reach the US Open semifinals, entering the top-10 for the first time in his career. The Spaniard became the first player to defeat four consecutive qualifiers to make the quarterfinals, where he easily ousted Diego Schwartzman in straight sets to make the last four. In a battle of the underdogs, Carreño Busta narrowly fell to Kevin Anderson despite leading by a set, missing out on a golden opportunity to make his maiden Slam final.
Lowest Points of season: Disappointing exits and slump towards end of the year
Starting the year ranked 30th, Carreño Busta had a disappointing Australian Swing as he failed to take advantage of his favorable draws. Being the fourth seed at the Sydney International, the Spaniard fell to a shock loss in the quarterfinals before coming up short against wildcard Denis Istomin in the third round of the Australian Open, missing out on his golden opportunity to make a maiden second-week appearance at a Major.
Just a week after impressively reaching the semifinals in Indian Wells, Carreño Busta failed to follow up his results as he was defeated by the unseeded Federico Delbonis in the opening round of the Miami Open. Unable to make his impact at the larger clay-court tournaments of the year, Carreño Busta started his campaign on red clay with a spirited third-round performance in Monte Carlo, where he fell to world number two Novak Djokovic in a tight match.
Disappointing results soon followed, crashing out early in Barcelona with a loss to lucky-loser Yuichi Sugita while also falling to Benoit Paire in Madrid. His inability to rattle off a couple of decent wins continued to plague him, and he soon fell out of the top-20 with another second-round exit at the Internazionali BNL D’italia.
An abdominal injury at the French Open forced Carreño Busta to withdraw from the whole grass-court season while also skipping the Wimbledon Championships. This unfortunate injury ruined all the momentum which he had, failing to capitalize on his ninth spot in the ATP Race to London rankings. He failed to regain his top form after returning from the injury, retiring in his comeback match at the Swedish Open before crashing out in the early rounds at both Montreal and Cincinnati.
After an incredible run to the US Open semifinals, Carreño Busta was unable to produce the top-notch tennis he displayed all week at Flushing Meadows. In what could be one of the most dramatic slumps on the tour, the Spaniard lost eight of his last nine matches of the year, with his sole win coming against world number 64 Guido Pella. Six of those losses were in straight sets, and he missed out on a great chance to qualify for his debut Nitto ATP World Tour Finals. Nonetheless, he still managed to compete as an alternate, playing two matches but falling short on both occasions.
Season Grade: B
It has been quite the year for Carreño Busta, who reached his first Grand Slam quarterfinals before cracking the top-10 for the first time in his career. Going on to make an appearance at the ATP World Tour Finals even as an alternate, the Spaniard should be proud of his excellent year bar the slump during the last weeks of the season.