Rafael Nadal was made to rally from a set down on Friday for the second time in three matches at the Rolex Paris Masters, but the Spaniard’s pursuit of a record-tying 36th ATP Masters 1000 title continues.
The top seed battled past countryman Pablo Carreno Busta 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 in two hours and 14 minutes to reach the Paris-Bercy semi-finals for the fifth time. Nadal, who is trying to claim his first trophy at this tournament, will play fourth seed Alexander Zverev in the last four.
“I have to give him a lot of credit that he did a lot of things very well, played very aggressively,” Nadal said of Carreno Busta. “I need to return better. My serve is working well, I think, so the rest of the game more or less I am playing better and better.
I need to return better if I want to have chances to keep going.”
Nadal’s victory eliminated Carreno Busta from contention for the final spot at the Nitto ATP Finals. The result guaranteed that Diego Schwartzman will compete at the season finale for the first time.
Carreno Busta appeared on track to keep his London dreams alive with a tremendous first-set performance in which he went after his shots and kept Nadal from dominating play. The ninth seed held his nerve to serve out the opener when he rushed to the back of the court and quickly turned around to hit a crosscourt forehand passing shot.
“He started playing well. The problem was he was winning his serves too comfortably,” Nadal said. “I was not able to return well enough, to create problems [for] him,” Nadal said. “When you feel that you are not suffering on your serve, you are able to play with more freedom, more relaxed on the returns, play more aggressively, and I think that was the problem tonight.”[WATCH LIVE 1]
Even without fans in the stands, Nadal continued to pump himself up with every screaming forehand or key point won. The World No. 2 hit a curling forehand passing shot down the line for a winner to force a decider, and that proved the key moment of the match.
Carreno Busta was unable to maintain his level from there and Nadal took full advantage. The legendary lefty did not face a break point in the third set and he broke his countryman twice to advance.
Nadal now leads Carreno Busta 7-0 in their ATP Head2Head series. His next opponent, Zverev, battled past former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka 6-3, 7-6(1).
Wawrinka seemingly turned the match around and he served for the second set at 5-4. But the Swiss missed a forehand into the net to allow the German back on serve, and Zverev rolled through the ensuing tie-break.
Zverev is into the Paris-Bercy semi-finals for the first time. The 23-year-old has a 1-5 ATP Head2Head record against Nadal.