Nadal's shadow no hindrance for Spaniard Carreno Busta

Carreno Busta counts Nadal, the world No. 1, not only as a good friend but also as a mentor who has helped him reach his first ever grand slam singles semifinal.

Pablo Carreno Busta returns a shot to Diego Schwartzman of Argentina during their US Open men's quarterfinal at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, on September 5, 2017. The Spaniard eased to a 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 victory.

Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta said playing in the shadow of Rafael Nadal, his country's most celebrated player, has helped to keep the pressure off him as he has quietly advanced to the semifinals of the US Open.

The softly-spoken 12th seed has yet to drop a set in the tournament having benefited from a kind draw.

He did not face a seeded player until Tuesday's encounter with world No. 33, Diego Schwartzman, who he dispatched in straight sets 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 to reach the last four.

"Of course if you speak with some Spanish people about tennis, everybody knows Rafa. That's true that Rafa is an incredible tennis player. He is one of the best ever," Carreno Busta told reporters after his quarterfinal match.

"Maybe it's just easier when, in your country, Rafa has all the attention and you are without this pressure," he added.

Carreno Busta counts the world No. 1 not only as a good friend but also as a mentor who has helped him reach his first ever grand slam singles semi-final.

"I always try to practice with him because it's really important to me, to be near the best players and practice with them," he told reporters on Sunday.

"I just try to learn about how he practices, what he does after practice, before practice, after matches, before matches. I think I'm learning a lot."

He might benefit from picking Nadal's brains prior to his semifinal match on Thursday, when he will face his stiffest challenge yet in South African Kevin Anderson.

If Carreno Busta manages to advance to the final, he may have to put his friendship with Nadal on hold as the 15-time major champion could be standing between him and a maiden grand slam crown.

Since his relatively late entrance into Grand Slam tennis, Carreno Busta has endured a roller-coaster career.

He has suffered seven opening-round losses and only made the last-eight of a major for the first time at Roland Garros this year.

Even then, fate turned against him when an abdominal injury forced him to retire — against Nadal.

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