Flawless! Carreno Busta Through To US Open SFs
Spaniard yet to drop a set
With his fifth straight-sets win in a row, Pablo Carreno Busta surged into his first Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open. The 12th-seeded Spaniard was too good for Diego Schwartzman, beating the Argentine 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 on Tuesday at Flushing Meadows.
“It’s incredible,” Carreno Busta told ESPN in his on-court interview. “It’s something that I always dreamed of, but never thought I could arrive here. I’m very excited to be in the semi-finals in this tournament.
“It was a very good match today. I tried to be focussed all the time. Diego is a fighter. You need to play aggressive and try to dominate the points, otherwise for sure Diego will beat you.”
Carreno Busta is yet to drop a set in New York. He defeated four qualifiers to open his campaign - Evan King, Cameron Norrie, Nicolas Mahut and Denis Shapovalov – and will now face either Sam Querrey or Kevin Anderson as he looks to continue his dream run.
"Of course I know that I have a good draw here," said Carreno Busta. "But when you have this draw, you have to do your best to take advantage, so I think that is a really good tournament for me. I know that I didn't win matches against top players, Top 10 or Top 20 players, but I am very happy with my tournament."
With Rafael Nadal still in contention in the top of the draw, due to face Andrey Rublev in the quarter-finals on Wednesday, talk is starting to brew of a possible all-Spanish final at Flushing Meadows. “It would be fantastic to play against him in the final,” acknowledged Carreno Busta. “But we go step by step.”
Should he make it to the final Sunday, it wouldn’t be Carreno Busta’s first taste of a championship match on Arthur Ashe Stadium, having partnered Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the doubles final last year. The pair finished runners-up to Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, but it proved to be an invaluable experience for the 26-year-old Carreno Busta.
“Doubles helped me a lot,” said the Spaniard. “It’s very good to practise serve, volley, play at the net and being aggressive. I played the final here last year, it was my first match on Arthur Ashe Stadium and that experience helped me this year.”
It has been a year of breakthroughs for Carreno Busta. After winning his third ATP World Tour title in Estoril (d. Muller), the Spaniard beat a Top 10 player for the first time in 17 attempts when he defeated Milos Raonic to reach his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Roland Garros (l. to Nadal).
After becoming the first player in the Open Era to face four qualifiers at a major, when he came up against the No. 29th-seeded Schwartzman, Carreno Busta did not falter. In the pair’s first meeting, Carreno Busta broke Schwartzman to love in the first game, setting the tone for the rest of the contest.
After wrapping up the first set in 38 minutes, Carreno Busta again broke early in the second set, but this time was pegged back by the resilient Schwartzman, who was responsible for ousting Marin Cilic and Lucas Pouille to reach his first major quarter-final. Schwartzman had his chances to snatch the set, squandering a 0/40 opportunity on Carreno Busta’s serve in the eighth game, and was made to pay as the Spaniard immediately broke in the ninth game and closed out a commanding two-set lead.
Schwartzman’s performance on second serve proved costly for the 5’7’’ Argentine. He was able to win just 33 per cent of the points, and Carreno Busta seized his opportunity with another break at the start of the third set.
Schwartzman threw everything he had at Carreno Busta to try and claw his way back into contention, including a magical volley lob in the sixth game, but he failed to convert the three break points he created in the fourth game and Carreno Busta went on to seal victory in just shy of two hours.
"I think it's unbelievable there outside, playing in Arthur Ashe quarter-finals against a friend like Pablo," said Schwartzman. "I think the first two sets were close for both players, and we did very good points. Now it's too close to the match, I think, but I have a lot of things, positives, to think about this tournament.
"I need to improve, like always, every week, but I feel really comfortable with myself to play like this [the past] week and a half, and I try to improve and try to do the best in the next year and next tournaments."
"I think it was a very good, very special match for me, playing on Arthur Ashe against Diego," said Carreno Busta. "We are very good friends. I am happy for him, also, because he made a really good tournament. Beat good opponents: Cilic, Pouille. He has to be happy about this tournament here in US Open.
"I'm very excited to be in the semi-finals. I think that it was a very good opportunity to do it, to be in the semi-finals, and I just try to make my best. I think that the match today was very good. I played very solid from the baseline, trying to not make mistakes. In the important moments, maybe my serve was the difference."