Indian Wells, CA, USA; Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) as he defeated Pablo Cuevas (not pictured) in his quarter final match in the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Pix by Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

INDIAN WELLS: Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta saved two match points en route to a 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (7/4) victory over Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas Thursday to reach the semi-finals of the ATP Indian Wells Masters.

A tense third set between the duo saw Cuevas unable to convert match points against the Spaniard’s serve in both the 10th and 12th games as they took the contest to a decisive tiebreaker.

The drama was heightened by Cuevas’s tumble on the first of those match points as he lunged for a backhand – necessitating a mid-game medical timeout for treatment on his scraped right hand after Carreno Busta had polished off the point with an overhead.

Things stayed tight in the tiebreaker, Carreno Busta gaining a match point at 6-4 when Cuevas sent a backhand long, and sealing it with a backhand volley to reach the first Masters semi-final of his career.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Carreno Busta. “It’s my first time in the semi-final in a Masters 1000, but here in Indian Wells is – you know, for me, this tournament is one of the best, not just the Masters 1000, one of the best tournaments in the year and maybe one of the tougher, because all the people is playing here, all the top 20.”

Carreno Busta avenged a semi-final loss to Cuevas in Sao Paulo this month, where the Uruguayan went on to win the title.

They played doubles together in that tournament and in Rio de Janeiro this year where they won the title.

“I know how he plays, he knows how I play,” Carreno Busta said. “So it was a tough match. Always with Pablo I need to be very focused on my game, very aggressive, because his second serve or his kick, the ball bounces a lot. So I need to be aggressive because he’s really dangerous with his forehand.”

The Spaniard next faces either world number three Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland or eighth-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem.

Wawrinka, who held off tenacious lucky loser Yoshihito Nishioka in three sets on Wednesday, is trying to reach the Indian Wells semi-finals for the first time.

Thiem, who defeated Carreno Busta to lift the Rio de Janeiro singles title, has never made it to the semis in an elite Masters event. --AFP

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