TENNIS

Final Prediction ATP Bastad – Baez vs Cerundolo

ADVERTISEMENT

Yesterday it looked like it would be Andrey Rublev against Pablo Carreno Busta, while Casper Ruud’s presence in the 250 clay draw is usually a reliable indication he’ll be in the final. But all three were defeated, with Sebastian Baez and Francisco Cerundolo going through tough draws to earn the right to play for the ATP Bastad Open title. Both are currently at the peak of their careers and each is guaranteed to improve their rankings further on Monday (they currently sit next to each other in the live rankings at 31st and 32nd). But who will emerge victorious?

ATP Bastad Final Prediction

Sebastian Baez vs. Francisco Cerundolo

Face-to-face: Baez 2-1 Cerundolo

ADVERTISEMENT

Baez continues his ascent on clay. Baez entered this tournament in the middle of a breakout season, although he hasn’t picked up a big win so far. But the semi-finals saw him defeat one of Andrey Rublev’s top 10 talents, and in straight sets no less. He had also passed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who can be dangerous, and again in straight sets. (Strangely, his biggest test came from Dominic Thiem, who hadn’t won a game all season before this tournament.) But perhaps results like this shouldn’t come as a surprise, because Baez quickly becoming one of the best clay-court courtiers on tour. .

Cerundolo had his most convincing tournament this year. His semi-final appearance in Miami wasn’t as impressive as it looked on paper as he benefited from two forfeits and then lost hard to Ruud. Here at Bastad, however, he came through Ruud and a fiery Pablo Carreno Busta, the latter of which sent Diego Schwartzman through to the semis while losing just one game. A win may be a fluke, but two excellent wins en route to a Finals appearance says a lot about his developing skills.

This match could actually look a lot like the quarter-final between Schwartzman and Carreno Busta in the dynamics of how it unfolded. Both players are almost identical to his counterpart in this particular match. The similarities between Baez and Schwartzman are obvious, even to the point of being compatriots, but the similarities are almost as close between Cerundolo and Carreno Busta. They’re about the same height and weight, and each has good speed on the court. And both have a big forehand and strong two-handed game, and prefer aggressive offense.

Expect quick rallies (compared to the usually longer rallies on clay) with each side trying to attack, although Cerundolo’s larger size lends itself to his dominance of the attack. However, Baez (like Schwartzman) has surprising power to complement his speed and movement on the pitch, and Cerundolo will need to cross the pitch to break through Baez’s defense. And he’ll have to watch out for Baez’s ability to turn defense into attack quickly.

The serve undoubtedly favors Cerundolo and expect him to attack Baez’s serve. Carreno Busta put a lot of pressure on Schwartzman in their quarter-final, often hitting his return deep and forcing a weak return or even a block, and we could see the same dynamic here. Likewise, Cerundolo, with his attacking style, should take full advantage of Baez’s slower serve. Baez can compensate for this somewhat by frequently cutting wide serves, as Cerundolo’s forehand doesn’t create the pace as well as it absorbs it.

This will be their fourth meeting, the previous three having been played below ATP level on clay. Baez holds a 2-1 advantage, with his two wins last year, while Cerundolo was in a Futures tournament four years ago. Both are obviously much better players now, but going head-to-head gives Baez a slight advantage. Cerundolo has lost three matches to Diego Schwartzman (two this year), which almost count as Baez wins.

Both preferred clay courts to their brief careers, but Baez is the better player at this point. Cerundolo is beginning to gravitate towards the hard courts, having stayed on the dirt at the sub-ATP level, while Baez continues to excel on his native surface. The latter is 17-9 on clay with a title this year, and would establish himself as a serious contender for the higher levels with another. Cerundolo is playing very well in Sweden, and that could be a sign of things to come, but Baez is the most stable and accomplished clay-court player right now. But Cerundolo is playing well enough to keep him close.

Prediction: Baez in 3

Main picture:
Embed from Getty Images

ADVERTISEMENT