ATP Bastad Final Prediction Sebastian Baez vs Francisco Cerundolo

Sebastian Baez in action ahead of the ATP Bastad Open.
Spread the love

As of yesterday, it looked like it would be Andrey Rublev vs Pablo Carreno Busta, whilst Casper Ruud’s presence in the draw of a clay 250 is usually a reliable indication that he will be in the final. But all three have been defeated, with Sebastian Baez and Francisco Cerundolo coming through difficult draws to earn the right to play for the ATP Bastad Open title. Both are currently at career-high rankings and each is guaranteed to improve their ranking further on Monday (they currently sit right next to each other in the live rankings, at 31 and 32). But who will come out on top?

ATP Bastad Final Prediction

Sebastian Baez vs Francisco Cerundolo

Head-to-head: Baez 2-1 Cerundolo

Baez continues his rise on the dirt. Baez entered this tournament in the midst of a breakout season, although until now having been without a marquee victory. But the semifinals saw him take down a top 10 talent in Andrey Rublev, and in straight sets no less. He had also moved past Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who can be dangerous, and again in straight sets. (Strangely, his greatest test came from Dominic Thiem, who had not won a match all season prior to this tournament.) But maybe outcomes like this shouldn’t be a surprise, as Baez is quickly becoming one of the better clay courters on tour.

Cerundolo has made his most convincing tournament run this year. His semifinal appearance in Miami wasn’t as impressive as it looked on paper as he benefited from two walkovers, and then lost badly to Ruud. Here in Bastad, though, he has come through Ruud and an on-fire Pablo Carreno Busta, the latter of whom dispatched Diego Schwartzman in the semis while only losing a single game. One win can be a fluke, but two excellent wins en route to a finals appearance speaks highly of his developing skill.

This match could actually look a lot like the quarterfinal between Schwartzman and Carreno Busta in the dynamics of how it is played. The two players are almost identical to his counterpart in that particular matchup. The similarities between Baez and Schwartzman are obvious, even to the point of being countrymen, but the similarities are almost as close between Cerundolo and Carreno Busta. They are about the same height and weight, and each has good speed around the court. And both have a big forehand and a solid two-hander, and prefer aggressive offense.

Expect quick rallies (relative to the generally longer rallies of clay), with each side trying to attack, although Cerundolo’s larger size lends itself to his dominating the attack. However, Baez (like Schwartzman) has surprising power to complement his speed and court movement, and Cerundolo will have to hit through the court to break through Baez’s defense. And he will have to be careful of Baez’s ability to turn defense into offense quickly.

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

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

Both have preferred clay courts over their brief careers, but Baez is the better player at this point. Cerundolo is starting to trend toward hard courts, after staying on the dirt at the sub-ATP level, while Baez is continuing 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 at the higher levels with another. Cerundolo is playing very well in Sweden, and this could be a sign of things to come, but Baez is the more stable and accomplished clay-court player at the moment. But Cerundolo is playing well enough keep it close.

Prediction: Baez in 3

Main photo:
Embed from Getty Images