Carreno Busta Stays Perfect In New York

Spaniard through to QFs without dropping a set

Pablo Carreno Busta advanced to his second Grand Slam quarter-final on Sunday in New York as he ended Denis Shapovalov’s dream run with a 7-6(2), 7-6(4), 7-6(3) victory in the US Open fourth round.

Carreno Busta is the fifth different Spaniard to reach the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows in the past five years - joining Rafael Nadal, Feliciano Lopez, David Ferrer and Tommy Robredo – and goes on to face either Lucas Pouille or Diego Schwartzman.

Speaking to Darren Cahill in his on-court interview, Carreno Busta said, “It’s amazing. It was the first time I played singles on this court. Arthur Ashe is unbelievable. I cannot describe it. I tried to fight all the time, every point. You never know when your opponent will doubt a little bit or make a mistake. I was focused on my game and I got through.”

The 12th-seeded Carreno Busta has not dropped a set in reaching the last eight, with victories over four qualifiers in a row in Evan King, Cameron Norrie, Nicolas Mahut and Shapovalov. The only other player left in the draw not to have dropped a set is Philipp Kohlschreiber, who plays Roger Federer in the fourth round on Monday.

But the Spaniard was pushed hard against 18-year-old Shapovalov, who caught the imagination of the New York crowd over the past two weeks with his run through qualifying and victories over Daniil Medvedev, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Kyle Edmund.

The Canadian teenager, who made a major breakthrough last month when he defeated Rafael Nadal en route to the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament in Montreal (l. to A Zverev), had opportunities to win the first set. After being denied when serving for the opener at 5-3, he then held three set points on Carreno Busta’s serve in the 12th game, but could not convert. As would ultimately be the tale of the match, Carreno Busta dictated in the tie-break to snatch the opening set from Shapovalov’s grasp.

The Spaniard was pegged back by Shapovalov in the second set when serving at 5-3, but again regrouped in the ensuing tie-break to take a commanding lead in the contest. Shapovalov refused to go down without a fight, taking a 3-0 lead in the third set on a run of 10-straight points. But Carreno Busta fought back and ultimately prevailed in the tie-break to seal victory in two hours and 54 minutes.

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"It was incredible," said Carreno Busta. "The people was supporting all the time. There is a lot of noise, and you think the people is behind you, but I just tried to be focused on the match. And then at the beginning I was a little bit scared, maybe a little bit nervous.

"But after he broke me, I talk to my coach. I don't know if he heard me, because there was a lot of noise. But I told to him that I can win the match, but I need to be very aggressive because he plays really good. And I just tried to do it. I continued fighting all the time.

"In the tie-breaks, I just played perfect. I played very aggressive. I served really good. It was very tough, because three hours, three sets, three tie-breaks, but of course it was an amazing victory for me. Now I'm in the quarter-finals again of a Grand Slam, first time here in US Open, and will try to continue."

It was the longest match of Shapovalov’s young career and the teenager put his bags down to accept the rapturous applause of Arthur Ashe Stadium as he walked off the show court.

"I think I had a lot of chances," said Shapovalov. "I don't think I played as well today as I have been these past two weeks, but, I mean, that's tennis. It's going to happen. 

"I think Pablo played a very great match. He stayed very tough mentally in the big points. He just played three tie-breaks that were better than mine. I was up in the first, up in the third. I definitely had my chances. Very disappointed that I wasn't able to keep my leads.

"But at the end of the day, it's tennis. I still have a lot of things to learn. Hopefully I can come back and one day I can make it further here."

Carreno Busta is enjoying a career-best season at the age of 26. The Spanish right-hander has established himself in the Top 20 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, courtesy of winning his third ATP World Tour title in Estoril (d. Muller), finishing runner-up in Rio de Janeiro (l. to Thiem), making the semi-finals in Indian Wells (l. to Wawrinka) and reaching his first major quarter-final at Roland Garros (l. to Nadal).