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“I don’t know how I’m feeling at the moment,” Pablo Carreño Busta said with a smile after his 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over Hubert Hurkacz in Montreal on Sunday.

The same could be said for the rest of the tennis world, because Carreño Busta’s victory, and his stratospheric level of play over the last two sets, was a new experience for all of us. The Spaniard is 31, he had never reached a Masters 1000 final, he hadn’t won a match at Roland Garros or Wimbledon, and he was having, by his own admission, “not my best season.” But here he was, on the biggest stage of his career, playing the best tennis of his life, and racing past an opponent ranked 13 spots higher than him.

“It’s very important to stay positive all the time,” Carreño Busta said of the mentality he needed to maintain through a year when he was barely keeping his head above the .500 mark. “I know we’ve been working hard.”

It’s for moments like these, when everything suddenly falls into place, that struggling players keep the faith. Carreño Busta had been on his game all week, beating two highly ranked Italians, Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner; two up-and-comers, Holger Rune and Jack Draper; and another player on a hot streak, Dan Evans. Early in the final on Sunday, Carreño Busta showed that his shots were still clicking, when he took a ball with no pace on it and drove a backhand past Hurkacz from behind his own baseline.

A horrific service game a few minutes later cost Carreño Busta the first set, but he was nearly flawless after that. Early in the second set, he took advantage of an equally horrific service game from Hurkacz to break and go up 3-0. From there, the winners began to flow, and PCB began to show off his underrated explosiveness and athleticism. He rocketed flat forehands crosscourt and backhands down the line. He passed Hurkacz when he came to net, and dug out low, angled volleys of his own. He leaped from left to right to hit a dunk volley on one point, put a running backhand pass on the outside of the sideline on another, and won the point of the tournament by chasing down an excellent Hurkacz lob and finishing with a backhand smash. After that, the normally mild-mannered Hurkacz had finally had enough and tossed his racquet.

“I try to be more aggressive with my serve,” said Carreño Busta, who won 71 percent of his second-serve points, compared to just 30 percent for Hurkacz. PCB finished with 25 winners and just 10 errors.

“Don’t wake me up if I’m dreaming,” Carreño Busta told the crowd, “because I’m enjoying.”

Carreno Busta's best Masters 1000 results before this were two semifinals, at 2017 Indian Wells and 2018 Miami.

Carreno Busta's best Masters 1000 results before this were two semifinals, at 2017 Indian Wells and 2018 Miami.


He has his first Masters 1000 title, and, maybe for the first time in his career, he also knows what kind of level his game can reach on such a big stage. We’ll see if he can keep it in that kind of stratosphere in Cincinnati and New York.

For now, Carreño Busta is just happy to have this title, as evidenced by his reaction. When Hurkacz’s last volley dribbled off his racquet, Carreño Busta yelled, threw his hands up, and started to fall to the ground. But, always a sportsman, he saw Hurkacz at the net, so he calmed down long enough to shake his hand and commiserate with him. Then the smile returned as he ran to hug his team. They threw their arms around each other and screamed “Vamos!” a few dozen times.

What else was there to do? Carreño Busta said he didn’t know how he felt after this win. Maybe that’s because he’s never played, or felt, that good on a tennis court before.