These two players have met 3 times in official matches. Pablo Carreno Busta won the first two matches played in 2017. Karen Khachanov then took her revenge in 2018.
Note that there is 1-1 in this face to face on this hard surface.
This is the fourth straight year Karen Khachanov has competed in the Masters 1000 in Cincinnati. He has always reached the 1/8 finals and then got eliminated. Oops.
Pablo Carreno Busta, for his part, is taking part in this tournament for the fifth year in a row. He was eliminated in the first round of his first participation, and it’s been 3 years in a row that he reaches at least the 1/8 final (like last year when he was eliminated by Novak Djokovic). Furthermore, his best performance is a 1/4 final in 2018.
In this edition
Karen Khachanov won quite easily in the first round against Alexander Bublik. I don’t know if the latter was very concerned, but he allowed himself to spoon serve from the first point… which he lost. Easy.
For his first round, Pablo Carreno Busta defeated Dusan Lajovic (7-5 6-1).
If these two guys are 100%, we could have a great match.
Pablo Carreno Busta is a rather regular player in rallies. He likes to stay on his baseline, and he knows how to return a lot of balls. He is indeed able to put his opponent of the day in trouble. Karen Khachanov can indeed make a lot of faults when he has to force his fate.
Nevertheless, Pablo Carreno Busta was less convincing in his first round. He often took advantage of his opponent’s mistakes (who also stayed behind his line) and didn’t take the game as much into his own hands as one might have thought.
Karen Khachanov could be much more dangerous in this new match. Pablo Carreno Busta could remain on the defensive most of the time and that will not necessarily be a good sign. I can see the Russian taking advantage of his powerful forehand to attack, but also of his many initiatives to earn valuable points. What’s more, Karen Khachanov could play on the variation of her game to break the rhythm and take the world No. 25 out of her comfort zone (can you see them coming?).
Besides, I have a doubt about the quality of service at Carreno Busta. The Spaniard still concedes a lot of break balls (7 against Lajovic) and makes frustrating double faults. That’s certainly one of the keys to this match.
Prediction: Karen Khachanov wins