© Mike Lawrence/ATP World Tour

Pablo Carreno Busta celebrates reaching his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final on Thursday in Miami.

Carreno Busta Recovers To Win Miami Thriller

Spaniard will face Zverev in SF

Pablo Carreno Busta had faced Kevin Anderson in Grand Slam semi-finals and at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events. But never before had the Spaniard been able to solve the 6'8” South African's game. Until Thursday.

Carreno Busta broke through against the sixth seed for the first time in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, advancing to the semi-finals of the Miami Open presented by Itau 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(6). Carreno Busta reached his second Masters 1000 semi-final (2017 Indian Wells), and he'll try to make his maiden Masters 1000 final when he faces Alexander Zverev, who beat Borna Coric 6-4, 6-4 Thursday night.

“It was an amazing match, no? I lost to him, 7-6 in the third set [at Indian Wells]. And today, well, at the beginning of the match I started playing really good, returning good, serving good, being very aggressive,” Carreno Busta said. “I am very happy with the victory, because it's very important to me... and also to be in the semi-finals in this tournament.”

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The Spaniard had to have a short memory and put aside a few ominous streaks that were working against him when he stepped on Stadium Court. He was 1-21 lifetime against Top 10 opponents, and he hadn't beaten a Top 20 player since 2017 Roland Garros. Carreno Busta was also 0-4 against Anderson, including his three-set loss at the BNP Paribas Open earlier this month.

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But the Spaniard was more consistent than the No. 8 player in the ATP Rankings, who was 0-9 lifetime in Masters 1000 quarter-finals. Carreno Busta broke in the seventh game with a forehand pass Anderson couldn't reach, and he looked to his box with confidence, shouting “Vamos, vamos!”

The Spaniard hadn't won a match in Miami before the past two weeks (0-4), but he quickly had a set and a break lead after Anderson started slowly in the second set.


At 5-4, however, with the match on Carreno Busta's racquet, Anderson saved two match points and grasped momentum to even the contest. To Carreno Busta's credit, however, he bounced back, and the two Top 20 players stayed on serve until the deciding-set tie-break, when Carreno Busta captured his opportunity.

“He played some unbelievable points, passing shots, returning really good,” Carreno Busta said. “After that it was a really tough mental moment for me... But I continued on court, I continued fighting.”

Down a match point at 5/6, he put Anderson's serve in play and the South African sailed a forehand. The next point, Anderson was in position for a backhand volley at the net, but he pushed it well wide, and at 7/6, the Spaniard landed a second serve that Anderson mishit. Carreno Busta, after two hours and 42 minutes, could finally celebrate.

Anderson was 4-1 in deciding-set tie-breaks this season before falling to Carreno Busta.