Aircel Chennai Open 2014
Carreno Busta Motivated To Continue Soaring In 2014
by Josh Meiseles|
The ‘overcoming adversity’ narrative has become increasingly prevalent in professional tennis in recent years, and as conditioning and recovery methods continue to advance, a significant injury isn’t the career death knell it once was.
For Pablo Carreno Busta, a seven-month hiatus following surgery to repair a herniated disc yielded a period of self-discovery, and the 22 year old’s response in 2013 was nothing short of extraordinary: 92 combined wins between the Futures circuit, ATP Challenger Tour and ATP World Tour, 11 titles, a 39-match win streak from mid-January to early April, and a semi-final charge in just his fourth tour-level tournament, in Oeiras.
One of the budding young stars to emerge from Spain, Carreno attributes his ascension to prominence, climbing from No. 715 to a career-high No. 64 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, to a strong reverence for David Ferrer and Juan Carlos Ferrero, emanating from years of watching his countrymen battle. It is their strong work ethic and manner in which they have carried themselves, both on and off the court, that Carreno has latched onto as a source of inspiration.
“I had the luck of meeting Ferrer and training with him on many occasions,” Carreno told ATPWorldTour.com. “For me, he is a perfect example of perseverance, putting in the hard work in training, which later reflects his game when he is competing. What he is accomplishing, being number three in the world, he deserves it. Also, away from the court he a great person and that is as important.”
While a player’s perseverance through injury is a product of their devotion to the three D’s of dedication, discipline and desire, its impetus is an essential element that is often overlooked. A player’s idols reveal a lot about their own character and fortitude in the face of adversity.
Carreno left the picturesque countryside of the Asturias region of northern Spain to train in Barcelona at the age of 15. Tennis was initially a hobby for the Gijon native, without any professional plans at first, but that rapidly changed as he began watching Ferrero on TV. As the man they affectionately call El Mosquito triumphed at Roland Garros in 2003 and assumed the World No. 1 throne, Carreno says he “dreamed to one day be like him.”
“I believe that a lot of my success is thanks to the effort that I put in to recover from the injury,” he added. “You learn to assess all the important things in your game and you become more mentally strong and give the maximum effort in every match.”
In a year of Spanish resurgences, from Rafael Nadal to Tommy Robredo, Carreno’s comeback campaign began to coalesce in May, with a semi-final finish at the Portugal Open, his deepest run on the ATP World Tour. Before pushing eventual champion Stanislas Wawrinka to three sets in the semis, he overcame Julien Benneteau and Fabio Fognini for the biggest wins of his career.
“The tournament in Portugal gave me a lot of confidence to win against the best players,” he said, discussing the impact of his success in Oeiras. “Playing a Top 10 [player] in Wawrinka, I put in a complete match and I felt very happy with how I performed on the court and how I had played. I believe that I can improve many things in my game, to be more aggressive with my forehand and improve a lot physically. There is room for improvement and I know I can continue rising in the rankings.”
Three weeks later, he would qualify for his first Grand Slam main draw, at Roland Garros, encountering Roger Federer in the first round. Admittedly overwhelmed by the magnitude of the situation, he fell 6-2, 6-2, 6-3, but believes the experience of facing Federer was more important. “It is an experience that helps you to grow as a player and mature. You have to learn from the best.”
Carreno was awarded the Most Improved Player of the Year honour in a ceremony at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, a fitting culmination to a sensational year.
After having to qualify for a Futures event in Turkey to open his 2013 season, the 6’2” Spaniard received direct entry into the Aircel Chennai Open. He opens with Yuki Bhambri on Tuesday. As the calendar flips to 2014, he hopes to finish in the Top 40 by year’s end and “continue learning from the top players in the world to improve each day and eventually become one of them.”