The Latest: Carreno Busta leads vs 1st seeded foe in US Open
Even though he co-opted a practice normally reserved for the victor of a Grand Slam final, Anderson had made a most unlikely run to reach this U.S. Open final.
The Spaniard struggled to handle Del Potro's serve and huge forehand in the opening set before finding his stride to set up a title-decider with South Africa's Kevin Anderson on Sunday.
Anderson, seeded 28th, beat the Spanish 12th seed 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4 in NY.
The 31-year-old Nadal, with his teeth firmly in his prey, showcased his defensive class to turn things around on match point and set up a strong chance for more grand slam silverware.
Cliff Drysdale was the last South African man in the U.S. final in 1965 but he was defeated by Manuel Santana. He hit 14 unforced errors including a backhand that sailed long to hand the composed Carreno Busta a rare break to go up 4-3 in the first set. Anderson made the most of his opportunity, nailing a backhand victor to take the set 7-5 and level the match.
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.
The 6'8"-tall Anderson has the bigger weapons against Carreno Busta's solid dirt-balling skills". But at the same time, I think I played a solid match.
"It was an unbelievably tough match on one of the biggest stages in tennis". "But I'm going to have another opportunity to go one step further".
"I need to be very focused with my serve and play aggressive", Nadal said, "because if you let him play from good positions with his forehand, you are dead".
Anderson climbed into the box to celebrate with his family and team after clinching match point.
The 4-6 6-0 6-3 6-2 thrashing also moved the Spaniard to the brink of a 16th grand slam title.
"This means the absolute world to me", Anderson said. He didn't drop a set through his first five matches.
Anderson was late to the Tour after choosing to go to college in the United States, at the University of IL, where he was coached by Craig Tiley. Del Potro was the U.S. Open champion in 2009, when he beat Nadal in the semifinals and Roger Federer in the final.
The towering South African has come through the half of the draw that Murray vacated on the eve of the tournament, taking advantage of the path that opened up for him.
With another inspiring march picking up steam with a fourth round win over sixth seed Dominic Thiem and a quarter-final upset of Federer, Nadal derailed the Del Potro train turning his dream into a nightmare.
Starting the fourth set serving, it was a bright start for Carreno Busta as he looked to have regained his composure and found the momentum.