ATP Cup: Without Rafael Nadal, Spain reaches semi-final with a single win over Greece



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ATP Cup: Without Rafael Nadal, Spain reaches semi-final with a single win over Greece

Spain will compete in the ATP Cup semi-final for the second straight year, even without their best player Rafael Nadal. The 20-time Major champion deals with a minor back issue and had to miss the ties against Australia and Greece.

His teammates Pablo Carreno Busta and Roberto Bautista Agut took care to guide Spain into the last four, sealing the semi-final berth when Pablo Carreno Busta defeated Michail Pervolarakis 6-3, 6-4 in 70 minutes on Friday.

The Spaniard hit 19 winners and 11 unforced errors, taming his strokes nicely and drawing over 20 unforced mistakes from the lower-ranked Greek to move over the top. Carreno Busta faced two break points and got broken once, earning three breaks on the other side to control the scoreboard and secure the second victory of the season.

Pervolarakis sprayed a forehand mistake in the second game to suffer a break before Carreno Busta landed a service winner to confirm the break and open a 3-0 gap.

Spain and Greece split the singles ATP matches.

The Greek netted an easy forehand in game four to lose serve for the second time, avoiding a bagel when he held two games later to reduce the deficit to 1-5.

Pervolarakis even pulled one break back a few minutes later and held at love for 3-5 before Pablo painted a forehand winner in game nine for a hold at love and 6-3 after 30 minutes. Carreno Busta grabbed a break at the beginning of the second set and produced five comfortable holds to seal the deal in game ten and propel Spain into the last four.

In the second match, Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5, 7-5 in an hour and 40 minutes. The Greek lost 15 points in 12 service games and lost serve once, challenging the Spaniard to repeat those numbers if he wanted to stay in contention.

Roberto struggled on the second serve and suffered three breaks, enough to propel the youngster over the top. Stefanos defended two break points in the third game, and they both served well until game 12 when Bautista Agut stood two points away from the tie break.

Tsitsipas found the range on the return and forced an error from his opponent to grab a break and take the set 7-5. Carried by this momentum, Stefanos earned another break in the second set's second game and opened a 3-0 lead, looking good to bring the victory home from there.

Serving at 2-5, Bautista Agut saved three match points on serve to prolong the action and landed a backhand down the line winner in the next one to pull the break back. Tsitsipas wasn't to be denied, though, securing the victory with a late break at 6-5 following Roberto's double fault.