Carreno Busta braves ‘crazy Melbourne summer’ to win Kooyong titlePosted on January 12, 2018
Pablo Carreno Busta fought back from a set down to defeat Australian Matt Ebden and become the second Spaniard to win the 2018 Priceline Pharmacy Kooyong Classic in hot and rainy conditions.
Joining compatriot Fernando Verdasco, who won in 2015 and 2010, Carreno Busta held the trophy high for the fans who braved humid and wet conditions for the tournament’s 30th anniversary celebration.
The 26-year-old took some time to get into the match falling a set behind to the world No. 76 from Perth, before finding his range from the back of the court, hitting his way to a 6-7(6) 6-4 6-2 win.
Following a season that saw the world No. 10 play in the quarterfinals at the French Open and semi-finals of the US Open he will enter Melbourne Park with strong performances against David Goffin and Ebden.
“It was very good preparation for the Australian Open,” Carreno Busta told reporters after the match.
“I’ve been a set and a break down in both matches so I think for me it was perfect, I continued fighting all the time and today was a very competitive match which is the most important thing.
“Yeah, I have played in the wind, sun and rain – I think the Melbourne summer is crazy, but we are here, so I try to acclimatise as soon as possible.”
Carreno Busta defeated two-time defending Kooyong champion and world No. 7 David Goffin on day one of the tournament and will now play Australian wildcard Jason Kubler in the first round of the Australian Open next week.
“I play against Kubler, I know him a lot because he was practicing in Barcelona sometimes,” he said of the 24-year-old from Brisbane.
“Last year he started to play again after I hadn’t seen him in a while, so we’ll see, I’ll try to play my tennis and be very aggressive and dominate the points.
“Yeah, it’s very nice to play here, a great preparation for the next week.
“Well I hope to be here over the next few years and the people are good.”
Ebden came close to becoming the eighth Australian to claim the Kooyong crown, which was first won by local tennis legend Pat Cash in 1988 a year after he won Wimbledon against world No. 1 Ivan Lendl.
The 30-year-old played three matches at Kooyong as he prepares for his home Grand Slam after a strong year on the ATP Tour following an extended period on the sidelines in 2016 with a knee injury.
“The first day I won and yesterday I had chances to win and again today I was right there to win that one as well,” Ebden said after the match.
“I probably should have won that in straight sets, I started rushing a little bit, but he played some good shots so you never ‘should have won’ but it’s a matter of making sure of doing the little things when the scores are like that.
“Obviously, I’m playing at a pretty good level, but it would be nice to maintain that for just a little bit more, but hopefully that will come in the coming weeks.
“I’ve just got to keep trying to push for that and the level was there today.”
The Australian Open mixed doubles champion from 2013 is now set to play No. 15 seed John Isner from the United States in the first round at Melbourne Park next week.
Ebden has played against the tall Isner twice in recent times, the latest in his first appearance in a tour final in Newport that finished 6-3 7-6(4) prior to closing the season with two Challenger tournament wins.
“I think we have played twice in the last 18 months,” Ebden said.
“He won a close one in the final against me at Newport and a close one against me at Wimbledon once as well, so I probably owe him one by now, that’s what I was thinking actually (when the draw came out).
“Two of our matches were in the States where he plays his best tennis historically but now we’re in Australia, so I’ve got to play my best tennis for sure.”