Nadal beats Carreno Busta to reach Paris Masters semis
Rafael Nadal set up a Paris Masters semi-final against Alexander Zverev with a comeback victory over Pablo Carreno Busta on Friday, ending his fellow Spaniard's ATP Tour Finals hopes.
The top seed edged a tight second set before racing through the decider to win 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.
Nadal, who claimed his 1,000th career victory earlier this week, is bidding for a first Paris Masters title.
"I think in the third I started to return better," said the 34-year-old.
"The problem was he was playing well and I was not able to return well, so he was winning his serves very comfortably so when that happens you're able to play more aggressive."
Zverev edged out Stan Wawrinka 6-3, 7-6 (7/1) to make the semis for the first time.
Carreno Busta had to take the trophy on Sunday and win next week's event in Sofia to be sure of qualification for the season-ending event in London, but his defeat gives Diego Schwartzman the last spot.
Argentinian Schwartzman missed the chance to seal a Tour Finals debut earlier in the day with a 6-3, 6-1 loss to Daniil Medvedev, who will face Milos Raonic in the other semi-final.
Nadal, playing his first event since winning a record-extending 13th French Open across Paris at Roland Garros last month, would equal Novak Djokovic's record of 36 Masters titles with success this week.
It is his first hard-court tournament since winning in Acapulco in February before the coronavirus-enforced suspension of professional tennis.
Nadal has won five of his six meetings with Zverev, but lost their last meeting at the 2019 Tour Finals.
"You need to adapt to everything," added Nadal, who has only reached the final at Bercy once in his seven previous appearances.
"(I) have to adapt to the hard surface. It's time to be happy because the semi-finals is a very good performance after a long period without playing on indoor hard (courts). Tomorrow will be a very tough opponent."
Nadal gets out of trouble
Carreno Busta started strongly, making up for missing a break point early on by breaking Nadal in the seventh game before going on to take the opening set.
The world number two was in trouble when 0-40 down in the first game of the second set, but he managed to save the three straight break points.
He came through two tough service games late in the set, before fighting back from 40-15 down when Carreno Busta was serving to force a tie-break.
A trademark forehand winner up the line, celebrated with a jump and fist pump, sealed Nadal the set at the first opportunity to send the match into a decider.
The momentum was firmly with the 20-time Grand Slam champion, and he clinched a 3-1 third-set lead with a backhand winner.
Nadal hit top gear in the closing stages, wrapping up victory with a fierce forehand that secured a fifth straight game.
Canadian 10th seed Raonic made the semi-finals by seeing off French hope Ugo Humbert 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (9/7).