Second seed Pablo Carreno Busta was made to work hard on Saturday at the Moselle Open as he rallied past Frenchman Gael Monfils 7-5, 7-6(8) in front of a lively crowd in Metz to reach his third tour-level final of the season.
The Spaniard battled back from 1-4 behind in the first set and saved four set points in the second-set tie-break as he showed great defensive skills to advance after one hour and 49 minutes and level their ATP Head2Head Series at 3-3.
”It is a long time since we have played with this kind of atmosphere,” Carreno Busta said in his on-court interview. “It was amazing. In the beginning it was really tough. Then I started to play better and made the rallies longer from the baseline and I think it was key to try and push a little bit.”[FOLLOW ACTION]
The World No. 16 has enjoyed a strong season, winning titles in Marbella and Hamburg, while also overcoming Novak Djokovic to capture the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Carreno Busta is making his third appearance in Metz, having enjoyed a run to the last eight in 2015.
The Spaniard will face Hubert Hurkacz in the final after the top seed defeated German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk 6-4, 7-6(4).
“The first practise I had at this tournament was with him [Hurkacz] at 8 a.m. on Monday, so it is a pleasure to play against him again in the last match at the tournament,” Carreno Busta said.
In a high-quality match, Monfils looked to overpower Carreno Busta with his heavy groundstrokes. But the home favourite could not close out the opening set from 4-1 ahead as the Spaniard hit with consistent depth to frustrate the Frenchman. Carreno Busta then saved set points at 3/6, 4/6, 5/6 and 6/7 in an epic second-set tie-break, sealing his victory when Monfils hit a forehand wide.
“He played really good points. I played well, but he played better than me [in the tie-break],” Carreno Busta added. “I think I served really well and it is tough to finish a set, so I tried to be there all the time and it is a good win.”
Monfils, who lifted the trophy in Metz in 2009, was competing in his first tour-level semi-final since Dubai in 2020.