Three years after falling in his only prior Grand Slam semi-final, Pablo Carreno Busta concedes defeat stings more the second time around. The Spanish 20th seed held a two-set advantage on Arthur Ashe Stadium before fifth seed Alexander Zverev staged a five-set comeback to reach his first Grand Slam final on Friday night at the US Open.
Still there was ample cause for optimism, following Carreno Busta’s second semi-final at Flushing Meadows. The 29-year-old, who looked to become the second-lowest-ranked finalist since his 2017 conqueror, Kevin Anderson, ground out five-set triumphs over Yasutaka Uchiyama and 12th seed Denis Shapovalov to equal his best run on a Grand Slam stage.
“Today I feel worse, for sure. Three years ago was my first semi-final,” Carreno Busta said. “I was very happy to [reach] the semi-finals.
“But I think that now it’s not enough [to make] the semi-finals again. It was a good opportunity to continue winning matches, to try to win the title.
“With two sets to zero up, it is tough to lose. Of course, I need to continue. This is the way… I am
“I am feeling comfortable on court. I cannot stop now.”
Zverev Turns Despair To Delight, Reaches US Open Final
The run capped an impressive return to hard courts for the world No. 27 since the ATP Tour resumed from suspension due to COVID-19. He finished with an 11-2 win-loss record in singles and doubles at Flushing Meadows, having also won the Western & Southern Open doubles title with Australian Alex de Minaur at the same venue.
“For sure these weeks were amazing. I played a really good level,” he said.
“I won doubles in Cincinnati. I made a semi-final here.
“I know that it’s a good result, it’s a good performance, but now in this moment it is tough to assimilate the opportunity that I lost today.”
The result marked the first time Zverev has clawed back from two sets down. The German slashed his unforced errors to turn the match on its head and secured a berth in his first Grand Slam final after three hours and 22 minutes.
After clinching a two-set lead, Carreno Busta noted a marked improvement in his opponent’s level. It was a momentum shift the Spaniard was unable to switch back in his favour again.
“He played better in the third set,” he said. “He started to serve better, to not make the mistakes.
“In this moment with two sets up is when you need to win the match, when you need to go for it to try to do it, to continue playing aggressively. Maybe I didn’t do it, [it] was the problem for me.”
Next stop: Rome. Carreno Busta admitted, in this instance, having insufficient time to prepare for a transition to clay was a welcome dilemma.
“It is important that I made the semi-finals here,” Carreno Busta said. “That’s why I don’t have enough time to prepare for Rome.”
Did You Know?
Carreno Busta was bidding to become only the third Spanish man to reach a Grand Slam final in the past 15 years after Rafael Nadal and Zverev’s coach, David Ferrer.