My US Open moment just as important as Nadal, says Carreno Busta

New York (AFP) –


Late bloomer Pablo Carreno Busta believes that breaking through to a first Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open merits as much attention as the heat generated by compatriot Rafael Nadal.

The 26-year-old Spaniard, seeded 12th, made the last-four in New York by defeating Argentine 29th seed Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

But his achievement may not linger long in the spotlight as world number one Nadal, a two-time champion at the US Open, plays his quarter-final on Wednesday against Russian teenager Andrey Rublev.

If Nadal gets through that, he could face Roger Federer in the semi-finals, a match which will overshadow Carreno Busta's last-four clash against either Kevin Anderson or Sam Querrey.

"Everybody knows Rafa, he's an incredible tennis player and one of the best ever," said Carreno Busta.

"But there are a lot of good Spanish players. And now I am in the semi-finals of the US Open, and I think it is as important as if Rafa arrives to the semi-finals.

"So maybe it's easier when Rafa has all the attention and you are without this pressure? I don't know. Sometimes is good; sometimes is not good."

Carreno Busta has made the most of his good fortune at the US Open in a half of the draw where former world number one Andy Murray withdrew two days before the start through injury.

With two-time winner Novak Djokovic, 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori also absent and with Nadal and Federer in the opposite section, the men's draw was always likely to be chaos-driven.

Carreno Busta has already become the first man to make the quarter-finals by facing four qualifiers in succession.

He saw off Evan King (ranked 308), Cameron Norrie (225), Nicolas Mahut (115) and highly-regarded Denis Shapovalov (69) before coming up against 33rd-ranked Schwartzman.

But Carreno Busta insists it is about time he enjoyed a slice of Grand Slam luck -- when he made his Slam debut at Roland Garros in 2013, he was drawn against Federer.

Predictably, he was beaten in straight sets, winning just seven games.

"Sometimes you are lucky; sometimes you are unlucky," he said on Tuesday.

"If you are seeded, normally you don't play against another seed until the third round. So that's the important thing.

"To be seeded here in US Open, I was seeded number 12. The seeds that were in the same part of my draw didn't arrive to me."

Since his relatively late entrance into Grand Slam tennis, Carreno Busta has endured a roller-coaster career.

He has suffered seven opening-round losses and only made the last-eight of a major for the first time at Roland Garros this year.

Even then, fate turned against him when an abdominal injury forced him to retire -- against Nadal.