Former top-10 player Pablo Carreno Busta hasn't enjoyed the best run in 2019, reaching only a couple semi-finals and dropping through the rankings. The Spaniard's fortune has changed this week in Chengdu, passing five obstacles to lift the fourth ATP crown and the first since Estoril 2017, defeating Alexander Bublik 6-7, 6-4, 7-6 in two hours and five minutes.
It was one of the closest ATP finals of the season but it has to be said that the Spanish player produced better tennis, taking 11 points more than his opponent and dropping only 18 points on serve, facing one break point in the entire encounter and mounting the pressure on the other side of the net.
Bublik had to give his best to follow the rival's pace, blasting 31 aces and fending off six out of seven break chances to reach the deciding tie break where Carreno Busta prevailed 7-3 to wrap up the title, the first on hard court since 2016.
The Kazakh earned that break point in the very first game of the match, sending a forehand wide and missing the opportunity to grab an early advantage, always an essential element in clashes like this. They both served well in the next eight games, leaving Alexander to serve for staying in the set at 4-5 when he experienced the first troubles in his games.
He remained focused, though, fending off two break chances and reaching a tie break where they traded early mini-breaks to stay locked up until the 12th point when Bublik clinched the crucial mini-break with a perfect volley winner that gave him the opener.
Carreno Busta had the response ready for set number two, dropping four points in his games and creating two break chances in the first game. Bublik survived those but couldn't do the same at 3-3, suffering a break and allowing the Spaniard to close the set with four winners in game ten and deliver a decider.
There, Alexander repelled two break points in the first game and nothing could have separated them in the rest of the set, reaching the deciding tie break that Bublik kicked off with a double fault. Two forehand winners sent Pablo 3-0 in front and he hit an incredible short backhand crosscourt winner to move 6-2 up, converting the second match point with a backhand winner for a 7-3 and long-awaited trophy in his hands.