Rafael Nadal vs Pablo Carreno Busta: Rome Masters Preview and Prediction

Second seed Rafael Nadal kickstarts his defence of the Rome Masters with a clash against the in-form Pablo Carreno Busta in the second round.

Playing his first competitive tournament after six months, Nadal would look a bit rusty. He chose not to play the US Open amid health risks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The king of clay has quite a rich history in Rome. Having won nine titles with a stunning record of 61 wins and just six losses, he would aim to make it La Decima this year.

Rafael Nadal makes a backhand return.
Nadal      credits: LA times

On the other hand, Busta is in great touch. After winning the doubles title partnering Alex De Minaur at the Cincinnati Open, the Spaniard made it to the semifinals of the US Open before losing to Alexander Zverev in five sets.

Head to Head record

Nadal leads the head to head record 5-0 against Busta. 

Strengths of Nadal

His topspin-heavy forehand can dismantle opponents. He also has an effective cross-court backhand. The Spaniard possesses tremendous court coverage. While his serve lacks speed, he makes up for that weakness by finishing points with crisp volleys.

Strengths of Busta

Primarily a clay-court specialist, Busta has made notable strides with his hard-court prowess in recent times. He often plays the waiting game and unleashes his consistent groundstrokes against powerful opponents. Busta also possesses tremendous mental strength and can make strong comebacks even from near-impossible situations.

While Nadal would look to get quickly off the blocks and not strain himself too much, Busta would aim to get into top-flight tennis despite not having much match practice on clay. 

“You need matches to feel 100%. I’m excited about going back to competition, without big expectations, I know I have a tough first [match] against Pablo, he’s playing great, so let’s see, it’s going to be a good test", said Nadal sounding positive about his comeback.

Rafa would definitely start as the clear favourite but must be wary of Busta, who can trouble him with his variety of shots. With the French Open set to start in two weeks, Nadal would want to get into the groove soon. 

Prediction - Rafael Nadal to win in three sets

Featured image credits: Getty Images

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