Pablo Carreno Busta’s resurgence continued at the 2018 Miami Open as he exacted revenge over nemesis Kevin Anderson to make his second Masters 1000 semifinal appearance, saving a match point to defeat the hard-hitting serving maestro. In a repeat of their US Open semifinal encounter, Carreno Busta earned his first win over the South African in five attempts.
Carreno Busta, who was on a losing streak after his impressive run to the last four in Flushing Meadows, reached the fourth round at both the Australian Open and BNP Paribas Open before reaching the semifinals here in Miami. It was a great mental effort from the Spaniard, who lost to Anderson just two weeks ago in Indian Wells with the same scoreline in a heartbreaking final-set tiebreak.
Carreno Busta takes the first set 6-4 over Anderson
Failure to find his first serves in the third game caused some anxiety in Anderson’s camp after he conceded two break point opportunities within a blink of an eye, with Carreno Busta being extremely aggressive on the second-serve returns. Nonetheless, in the most anti-climatic way possible, Anderson served two unreturnable serves to fend off Carreno Busta’s incoming surge before narrowly holding his serve to level the scores.
Six consecutive service holds started the opening set but errors started to overwhelm Anderson, who was unable to follow up his incredible serves and he was ultimately broken to love as the Spaniard won 11 consecutive points to open up a commanding 5-3 lead within a blink of an eye. Although the South African managed to keep himself in contention with a spirited service hold, Carreno Busta served his fourth ace to seal the first set 6-4 after 43 minutes of play.
Anderson produces an incredible comeback, fights back from the brink
Everything was going in Carreno Busta’s way as he earned two break points in the opening game of the second set, riding on his momentum and the Spaniard looked extremely comfortable on the court. However, a comeback looked plausible especially when Anderson triumphed from a set down in two of their last meetings and he endured through the tough game to grab the confidence-boosting service hold.
For the first time in the match, Carreno Busta played a poor service game and threw in his first double-fault of the encounter to gift Anderson a break. The Spaniard’s first-serve percentage dropped drastically while the world number eight grew in confidence. Unexpectedly, Carreno Busta quickly regained his composure and claimed four games on the trot, opening a formidable 4-2 lead as the underdog edged closer to the upset.
It was during the crucial moments which proved costly as Carreno Busta fell victim to pressure, with Anderson taking full advantage as he saved two match points on the return before rattling off three consecutive games and came out of nowhere to take the second set 7-5.
Carreno Busta seals the terrific victory
It was assumed that Carreno Busta would crumble mentally especially after failing to serve out the match despite having two match points, but he was determined to prove everyone wrong.
The pair exchanged comfortable service holds throughout the entirety of the deciding set, with the only break point opportunity surfacing in the ninth game but Anderson was able to show nerves of steel, saving the break point and ultimately sending the match into a final-set tiebreak.
From 2-4 down in the tiebreak, Carreno Busta continued to dig for chances on the returns, and his efforts were finally paid off with Anderson missing out on a match point as his forehand sailed long despite having the upper hand in the rally.
Losing two consecutive service points, Anderson’s level of play dipped while Carreno Busta finally claimed his first-ever win over the big-serving South African, sealing the impressive victory after a marathon two-hours and 42-minutes of play.