Pablo Cuevas celebrated reaching his first Masters 1000 quarterfinal after defeating last year’s semi-finalist David Goffin 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in Indian Wells. The Uruguayan set up a clash with another first time quarterfinalist in the form of Pablo Carreno Busta, who saw off Dusan Lajovic 6-4, 7-6(5).
* Article originally published by me for UBITennis.net *
Both Cuevas and Carreno Busta made strong starts, needing just the one break of serve to help secure their opening sets respectively. Goffin bounced back against the Uruguayan to force a decider, but the 27th seed made a pivotal breakthrough in the sixth game to help secure victory. Meanwhile the 21st seeded Spaniard squandered an early second set lead against Lajovic but recovered from 5-3 down in the tiebreak to see off the Serb.
Cuevas Shocks Goffin 6-3, 3-6, 6-3
Cuevas looked in complete control of his game early on, capitalising on errors from his Belgian opponent to break the 11th seed to love midway through the set. Holding serve was routine for the 27th seed as he sealed the set with an ace after exactly half an hour.
In the second set the Uruguayan dropped his opening service game after back to back unforced errors. The seventh game saw Goffin under pressure at 30-30 on serve but the 11th seed won a 17 shot rally with an overhead to hold for a 5-2 lead.
When serving for set, a double fault and sprayed forehand left Goffin facing break point. The Belgian saved it with a strong first serve, but sprayed another forehand wide to face a second break point. The 11th seed showed great discipline in the next point, closing with a cross court forehand winner back behind his opponent before a mishit one handed backhand flew long from Cuevas to secure the second set for Goffin 6-3.
Cuevas faced the first pressure which either player had faced on serve in the fifth game of the final set, getting pushed to 30-30. Goffin narrowly missed an attempted backhand cross court winner wide, allowing the Uruguayan to keep his nose in front in the set. After missing that, a couple of errors from the 11th seed left him having to save a break point of his own. His opponent broke down in an extended rally to spurn the chance but earned another opportunity to make a crucial breakthrough. It was a chance which the 27th seed duly took, forcing Goffin into an error to move two games away from a maiden Masters 1000 quarterfinal.
Cuevas closed out the match with a strong second serve, much to his delight as he let out a roar to celebrate a landmark win in the 31-year-old’s career.
Carreno Busta Sees Off Lajovic 6-4, 7-6(5)
In the opening match on Stadium 2 Carreno Busta ended the qualifier Lajovic’s excellent run in the desert. The 21st seed had only played one match prior to this encounter having received a bye in the first round and due to Roberto Bautista Agut’s injury withdrawal in the previous round. By contrast, his opponent had already come through the qualifying and had played six matches, three of which went to three sets.
The huge difference in the two players court time looked to be an important factor early on as Carreno Busta broke in the fifth game. The Spaniard was exceptional when serving, dictating the play after dropping just one point behind his first serve (93%) and only losing one point behind his second serve too (86%). That form allowed him to wrap up a routine first set, which he finished with a forehand winner to take it 6-4.
Lajovic looked a beaten man as he dropped serve in the opening game of the second set. However, that set back spurred him on as the Serb broke back after finding more joy in returning his opponent’s serve, taking three points on the first serve and six points on the second over the course of the set.
After a series of holds Lajovic moved close to forcing a decider at 30-30 on Carreno Busta’s serve when leading 5-4. An attempted cross court backhand pass from the Serb narrowly went wide and the 21st seed was able to escape with the hold. The Spaniard had a half chance of his own in the following game at deuce but missed a guilt edged chance after his attempted forehand cross court winner struck the net.
The second set went into a tiebreak and the match looked set to go the distance following errors from the 21st seed, which saw him squander a 2-0 advantage to quickly find himself 5-3 down. With Lajovic on the verge, Carreno Busta raised his level, nailing a backhand down the line winner to stay in touch before serving strongly to reach match point. The Serb went wide with an attempted slice backhand, securing a quarterfinal spot for the 25-year-old.