Carreno Busta Breaks Through At Roland Garros
The breakthrough stretch of Pablo Carreno Busta's career reached another high on Sunday at Roland Garros. Playing in his first fourth-round match at a Grand Slam, the 25-year-old Spaniard knocked out fifth seed Milos Raonic 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-7(6), 6-4, 8-6 to advance to his first Grand Slam quarter-final.
Carreno Busta battled the 26-year-old Canadian for more than four hours and needed seven match points, but the Spaniard eventually prevailed to celebrate his first win against a Top 10 player. He had been 0-16 and had lost all five prior match-ups against Top 10 players at Grand Slams.
“It's difficult to explain my emotions at the end of the match. It was the best victory of my career. Maybe one of the best moments. This match, you dream of when you are young, playing Roland Garros, five sets, four and a half hours. It was really tough, really tough. But I just tried to do my best,” Carreno Busta said. “I enjoyed. I suffered, but I enjoyed. And of course if you win, you enjoy more.”
Carreno Busta will face nine-time champion Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals. Carreno Busta is 0-3 against Nadal in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.
“Rafa is maybe the best player on this surface in history, and he's playing really good, but I will try. I'm playing good. I'm playing with a lot of confidence. Maybe I'm a little tired, but I have one day off. So on Tuesday, we'll see what happens,” Carreno Busta said. “These quarter-finals are a great opportunity to continue and create my own history.”
The 20th seed had also been 0-3 against Raonic in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, but they had never played on clay, where Carreno Busta has thrived, especially this season. The right-hander won his first clay-court title at the Millennium Estoril Open last month, beating Gilles Muller in the final.
Carreno Busta also reached the Rio Open presented by Claro final, and the semi-finals at the Argentina Open and Brasil Open in Sao Paulo. Carreno Busta lost to the eventual champion at all three tournaments – Dominic Thiem, Alexandr Dolgopolov and Pablo Cuevas, respectively.
Away from the clay, Carreno Busta also posted some of his career-best results, reaching the semi-finals at an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event for the first time at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in March.
Raonic, however, had also played some of his best clay-court tennis earlier this season, reaching the final at the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open (l. to Cilic) and was looking to match his best Roland Garros result by reaching the quarter-finals.
The 6'5” Canadian won the final two points of the third-set tie-break to take a two-sets-to-one lead and looked poised to return to the last eight for the first time since 2014. But Carreno Busta fought back, breaking Raonic twice and serving out the fourth set to even the match.
“I had a lot of times where I was controlling the point and had short forehands that I wasn't very efficient with and just let him stick around in those moments. Then he started to believe a lot,” Raonic said. “He was the better player there towards the end. I hung on as much as I could.”
The fifth set was all drama. Carreno Busta first served for the match at 5-4, holding three match points before Raonic smacked a forehand winner to break on his first chance. Raonic held for a 6-5 lead but couldn't touch Carreno Busta during the next game, so the Canadian stepped up to the service line at 6-6.
But Carreno Busta broke Raonic to love and on his seventh match point, the Spaniard angled a volley winner to earn one of the biggest wins of his career.
“I think we have worked very hard this season and last season,” Carreno Busta said. “I'll continue to work. Things don't happen by chance. I'll have to continue and work again and again with the same ambition.”
Go inside the tournament at RolandGarros.com.