NEW YORK: This was a match that would not end. Should not end, one might say. Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner, two of the brightest young stars of men’s tennis, traded shots of the highest quality and countless momentum swings across five sterling sets for 5 hours, 15 minutes until the Spaniard finally won the last point at 2:50 am local time on Thursday, the latest finish in US Open history.
It was only a quarter-final, no trophy at stake, yet was as taut a thriller as this tournament has produced. A 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-7(0), 7-5, 6-3 victory for the No.3 Alcaraz put him in the last-four stage. Alcaraz, who has a chance to move up to No.1 in the rankings next week, will face No. 22 Frances Tiafoe of the United States on Friday.
The Alcaraz-Sinner match began on Wednesday evening at about 9:45 pm and easily surpassed the previous mark for latest time of finish at the US Open, which had been 2:26 am, shared by three matches. It was as back-and-forth as could be.
After taking the first set, Alcaraz held five set points in the second, but Sinner saved them all. In the third set, Alcaraz broke to lead 6-5 and served for that set, but Sinner broke to force a tie-breaker that he dominated.
In the fourth set, it was Sinner who served for the victory at 5-4, even holding a match point, but Alcaraz broke there and wound up, pushing what already was a masterpiece to a fifth. And in the fifth set, Alcaraz pushed through, dropping to his back when it ended, his chest heaving, and covered his face with his hand.
Tiafoe keeps alive American hopes
With the hopes of a nation resting on his shoulders, American Frances Tiafoe rose to the occasion by reaching his first Grand Slam semi-final with a 7-6(3), 7-6(0), 6-4 win over Andrey Rublev.
Not since Andy Roddick in 2003 has a US man won the title at Flushing Meadows and the pressure was on for the 24-year-old to build on his stunning win over second seed Rafael Nadal in the fourth round. He did not disappoint, launching 18 aces and 46 winners in a dominant performance, injecting new excitement among the home crowd after Serena Williams bowed out.
RESULTS:Quarter-finals: Men: C Alcaraz bt J Sinner 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-7(0), 7-5, 6-3; F Tiafoe bt A Rublev 7-6(3), 7-6(0), 6-4. Women: I Swiatek bt J Pegula 6-3, 7-6(4); A Sabalenka bt K Pliskova 6-1, 7-6(4)