Matteo Berrettini vs. Pablo Carreno Busta Preview: Can the Hammer Maintain His Form? (Jan. 23)

Matteo Berrettini vs. Pablo Carreno Busta Preview: Can the Hammer Maintain His Form? (Jan. 23) article feature image

BSR Agency/Getty. Pictured: Matteo Berrettini strikes a forehand against Carlos Alcaraz.

Matteo Berrettini vs. Pablo Carreno Busta

Berrettini Odds-245
Carreno Busta Odds+200
Time | TV4:15 a.m. ET | ESPN+
Odds via DraftKings. For tips on watching tennis matches, click here.

It's been quite the journey down under for Matteo Berrettini, who has yet to come through a match in convincing fashion or without some sort of injury scare.

He's still made it to the fourth round, though, and he's the favorite to come out of his quarter and reach the semifinals. Is it worth believing in the favorite here?

Carreno Busta Moving Along With Warning Signs

I alluded to Berrettini's issues with clean wins earlier, though I could really make that point about Carreno Busta.

After coming through an easy match with clay warrior Tomas Etcheverry, Carreno Busta won a match he really should have lost against Tallon Griekspoor, where his opponent struggled physically to finish the match. Even then, Carreno Busta seemed interested in letting Griekspoor hang around, allowing the match to go the distance.

The Spaniard's most recent match — a win over Sebastian Korda — wasn't exactly the prettiest either. He was broken serving for the first set before Korda donated a break and the set.

He would face more break points in the second before ultimately winning the set, then Carreno Busta wasted three more at 4-4  in the third before letting the American come away with the set. He even fumbled away his break lead in the fourth before securing the match in that stanza.

The bottom line here is that the Carreno Busta serve has been awfully vulnerable, and it's let him down all tournament long. The Spaniard has never advanced past the Round of 16 at the Australian Open despite Grand Slam success elsewhere, and the deck's stacked against him here.

Berrettini Still Undervalued

It's always something with Berrettini these days, isn't it. The Italian even alluded to his misfortunes in his post-match interview with Jim Courier on Thursday night, shortly after dispatching the talented Carlos Alcaraz in a five-set epic.

In the opening round, he fought stomach issues and needed the help of Immodium to get through a very tricky opponent in Brandon Nakashima. Given his abdominal tear at the end of last season which forced him to pull out of the ATP Finals, it was quite the scare.

He then seemed to struggle with the lack of pace from the unorthodox Stefan Kozlov, though he came through that one relatively easily. Against Alcaraz, he not only blew a two sets-to-love lead but rolled his ankle in the fifth and needed to pause the match briefly.

He was obviously fit enough to finish that match, and his movement looked fantastic. My point here is not to throw cold water on Berrettini with his health, but rather highlight why this line is a bit short. Oddsmakers and the public seem aligned that Berrettini isn't 100% there, and thus that he is a vulnerable opponent.

I couldn't disagree any more, as there's a very easy explanation for his first two rounds being as shaky as they were. It's also hard to fault him for dropping two sets to Alcaraz, who many thought could even win this event. If anything, raising his level again in the fifth was a testament to just how far this guy has come.

Betting Value

I find it hard to believe that Carreno Busta is going to even take a set off of Berrettini here. The Italian was in a good amount of Alcaraz's service games on Thursday, and I'd rate the Spaniard's serve around the same as his fellow countryman's. Carreno Busta has been letting everyone win easy points on his serve this week and if Berrettini is able to make inroads, it could be over quickly.

The Italian looked focused and dangerous on Thursday while the Spaniard looked to be on the brink of a collapse. Just trying to play high-percentage shots and hang in rallies isn't going to work against someone with the physical power of Berrettini.

The Italian has the upper hand in serving, hitting, and with his mental strength. His backhand continues to get better and has made him a decent threat returning as well.

I think he passes this test easily.

Pick: Berrettini -1.5 Sets (-115)

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