Pablo Cuevas' journey to the BNP Paribas Open quarterfinals was a bit more circuitous than most. After winning the rain-delayed final in Sao Paulo, Brazil last Monday — his third straight title on the clay of the Esporte Club Pinheiros — he flew back home to Uruguay, then on to Santiago, then on to Los Angeles, before traveling by car to Indian Wells. Most of the men's field had already been here for days, but Cuevas didn't arrive until Tuesday, exhausted.
But the jet-leg doesn't appear to have affected his play on the hard courts of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, where after a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 upset of 11th seed David Goffin of Belgium, he's into the first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarterfinal of his career.
"I'm so happy," Cuevas told BNPParibasOpen.com. "My first quarterfinal at a Masters tournament, especially on a hard court. Hopefully, I'll continue to play well."
Next up in the semis is another Pablo -- No. 21-seed Pablo Carreño Busta. Cuevas is more than familiar with the Spaniard's game. In February, they teamed up to win the doubles title in Rio de Janeiro, and only last week faced off in the singles semis of the Brazil Open Sao Paulo, an event Cuevas would go on to win. He's now 3-1 against Carreño Busta, whose lone win came last year in Winston-Salem.
"At the beginning of the year, I didn't play so good," he said. "In Australia, I lost in the first round. I lost in Rio early. But then I was able to reach some calmness in Sao Paulo, where I won for the third time. Now I'm playing with confidence."
His journey to the upper echelons of the game was nearly as roundabout as his itinerary to the California desert. It wasn't until 2016 that Cuevas, at 31 now in his 13th year on the tour, finally cracked the Top 20 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. But Uruguay's top player -- an oft-injured clay-court specialist who as recently as 2013 was ranked as low as No. 762 -- appears to be finding his footing on the hard courts, too. Late bloomer? Perhaps. But he'll take it.