When Rafael Nadal left the Nitto Finals in London, withdrawing due to a knee injury, he was replaced by an alternate, another strong-willed Spaniard - Pablo Carreno Busta. Carreno Busta is never short of talents and came to play opposite Dominic Thiem as if he was a top-ranked player.
But he's had lots of experience and this year he was a confident player who went through to four semi-finals as the Argentina, Brasil and US Open as well as Indian Wells. He made it through to a few finals and won the Estoril Open over Gilles Muller, a tournament that he had lost last year to another Spaniard, Nicolas Almagro.
The title gave him confidence that he could beat nearly any player on the circuit and he commented that "I'm very happy and look forward to celebrating this title. After last year, having lost in a very tough final it's great to come back and lift the trophy.
The tiebreaker was very tight and decided by just one point". Carreno Busta's ability to adjust to any surface and player's style is exceptional and he showed what skills he had during the second set when he came on to battle his Austrian opponent Dominic Thiem at London.
He was aggressive and powerful, blasting and painting-the-lines whenever needed. The Spaniard knew how to pick his spots well and did it with great precision on volleys and smashes to win the second set 6-3. This had only happened after he blew many opportunities to put the ball away and win games during the opening set where Dominic Thiem had reigned and won the set at 6-3.
The third deciding set was a battle but Thiem had an answer to most of the shots and had the least unforced errors. The Austrian gained more strategic variation and hadn't much trouble putting the shots away and winning rallies.
There were many rallies that Carreno Busta had won, but his game started to show weakness towards the end and he started making errors which had stopped his fluid of gaining points and games. Thiem had heightened his level of play throwing the Spaniard into making him mis-hit shots or become unsure of where the next shots were going to land.
The number four ranked player won the match 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 and mentioned that "It was a tough battle at the end and I'm happy to get the win and to play for the semi-finals ... " As for Carreno Busta, he was just happy to be an alternate who will have to play two matches instead of just the routine one.
The Spaniard knows that he'll have to bring his 'A' game to the 02 Arena on Friday when he meets with the almost invincible Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov who is playing excellent and has the capacity to dismantle his opponents' games as his team will smilingly look on.