Kevin Anderson rallied from a set down to reach his first grand slam final by defeating Pablo Carreno Busta 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4 at the U.S. Open on Friday.
The absence of Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori has left one half of the draw wide open at Flushing Meadows, with Anderson and Carreno Busta the two to have taken advantage.
A grand slam semifinal represented a new experience for both men but it was 12th seed Carreno Busta who appeared to adapt quickest in the early stages as he took the first set.
But 28th seed Anderson, behind his strong serve and powerful forehand, controlled matters thereafter, triumphing to become the first South African to reach the final in New York in the Open era.
He will now face either Rafael Nadal or Juan Martin del Potro in Sunday’s final.
.@KAndersonATP becomes the first South African to reach the #USOpen final in the Open Era!
He defeats Carreno Busta 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4! pic.twitter.com/aftgwC6ffy
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 8, 2017
Carreno Busta’s serve was the first to come under any kind of pressure in the sixth game of the match, but he held from 30-30 before striking what proved the decisive blow in the opener as Anderson fired a backhand long to hand him the break.
Two games later Anderson saved a pair of set points, but a third was quickly snatched up by Carreno Busta as a serve out wide was returned into the net.
The momentum quickly changed in the second, however, a scorching forehand giving Anderson the break, only for Carreno Busta to hit straight back with a fine forehand down the line.
Carreno Busta displayed great resilience to save two break points at 4-3 down, but Anderson’s persistence paid off in the final game of the set as he broke courtesy of angled backhand.
The third continued the trend of Carreno Busta having to work hard on serve, as evidenced by him coming from 0-40 down to hold in his first service game of the set.
That hard work was thrown away as a double-fault handed Anderson a break and a 3-1 lead and, though Carreno Busta saved two set points to hold at 5-2 down in a mammoth service game, he could do nothing to avoid losing the third in the next game.
A 20th ace of the match from Anderson wrapped up the third, with his command furthered in the fourth as he moved within three games of victory when Carreno Busta went wide with a forehand.
Anderson quickly consolidated and Carreno Busta’s struggles were encapsulated as he went 0-30 down in his next service game after losing his footing on a point, though he did recover to hold.
Carreno Busta surrendered a 40-0 advantage in his next service game, which went to deuce five times before he eventually held to force Anderson to serve for the match.
And, after some resistance from Carreno Busta, he did just that, setting up match point with a forehand smash, with his place in the final secured as the Spaniard sent a forehand into the net.