PARIS – Rafael Nadal trailed by one set, 0-40 before coming back to beat Spanish compatriot Pablo Carreño Busta 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 and reach the semifinals of the Paris Masters on Friday.
Nadal has never won the Paris tournament and lost his only final 13 years ago. The seeded Spaniard will face Alexander Zverev, who defeated three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka 6-3, 7-6 (1) for his fourth straight win against the Swiss veteran.
Zverev has lost five of six matches to Nadal, although the fourth-seeded German’s only success came in straight sets at last year’s ATP Finals.
Nadal’s victory also secured Diego Schwartzman last place in those finals, and at the expense of his rival Carreño Busta. Schwartzman advanced to the final in London on November 15-22, despite previously losing to Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-1 in his quarterfinals.
Carreño Busta is 0-7 that crushes confidence overall against Nadal, but there may be a good reason why he has never beaten him.
He appeared to be in control against a tired-looking Nadal after conceding just five points on his serve in the first set.
“The problem was that I was winning his services too comfortably, I couldn’t return well enough,” Nadal said. “I need to come back better if I want to have opportunities to move on.”
But Carreño Busta released Nadal by playing loose shots after having him 0-40 on serve early in the second set.
The careless pardon prompted the 20-time Grand Slam champion to step up his game.
Nadal secured his first break of the match in the 12th game to avoid a dangerous tiebreaker, and took command after breaking his opponent for a 3-1 lead in the decider.
Wawrinka, meanwhile, served for the second set at 5-4 before falling into the tiebreaker.
“I didn’t stay calm when I could, that’s why I lost,” Wawrinka said. “I rushed to some points here and there.”
Previously, 2019 US Open runner-up Medvedev was first on the court and off the court just an hour later, following a brutal display of ball strikes against Schwartzman.
“Today’s level was really good, so that’s a level that I want to be at all the time,” he said. “But it is impossible in tennis.”
The mighty Russian did not face a break point and came close to perfect with the first serve winning 27 of 28 points. He was also clinical, breaking Schwartzman twice in each set.
“Against Daniil, you have to put in all the points, 15, 20 balls, without trying to make winners quickly,” said Schwartzman, who has lost all four of his career games against him. “I didn’t have the patience to do it.” today.”
Medvedev will face 2014 runner-up Milos Raonic, who saved two match points by beating Frenchman Ugo Humbert 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7) in their first meeting.
Raonic saved match points in a scathing tiebreaker, then concluded on his second match point with his ace 25.
Humbert missed a great opportunity early in the deciding set, failing to punish Raonic when he was 0-40 off service.
Humbert then led 5-1 in the tiebreaker and earned a match point when Raonic’s forehand went long. But Raonic stood his ground to save him with a forehand at the net after a long rally, and he saved the second match point with a strong serve that Humbert hit at the net.
After Humbert saved match point at 7-6, he moved a routine backhand down the line to make it 8-7 for Raonic, who let out a loud yell after an ace.