It was the last-ever final of the US Open, played in a city that never sleeps, but Carlos Alcaraz and Janic Sener made it worth staying until the early hours.
In one of the best (and longest) matches ever contested at this Grand Slam in New York, the 19-year-old Spanish genius Alcaraz battled a match point in the fourth set to defeat Sener, the 21-year-old Italian prodigy, 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-7 (0), 7-5, 6-3, to advance to the semi-finals.
“I always say you have to believe in yourself all the time, and that hope is the last thing you lose,” Alcaraz said in his on-court interview early Thursday morning. “I only believed in myself and believed in my game.”
Instant coffee certainly wasn’t required to make it to the end of the instant classic, which lasted five hours and 15 minutes and finished at 2:50 a.m., 24 minutes short of the previous record I shared three matches.
The suspense and tension was so constant. Imaging quality and high voltage.
Alcaraz, the third seed, and Sinner, the 11th seed, have long been considered the future of tennis, but they looked more like the present after the match began on Wednesday night, making rapid advances from the baseline and chasing each other’s shots. and potential winners.
But only Alcaraz, a fast aerobatics driver from Murcia, will have a chance of making his breakthrough in this extraordinarily wide open championship. He will face American Frances Tiafoe on Friday in what will be the first Grand Slam semi-finals for both men. In the other semi-finals, he will face the Norwegian Kasper Ruud, the Russian Karen Khachanov.
None of these four men have won a major singles title: no shame, no surprise in a long-running era dominated by the big three Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic for so long.
But neither Federer nor Djokovic has played this year in New York, and Nadal, who has been match short and may have lacked inspiration after a tax season, was upset in the fourth round by Tiafoe, the 24-year-old who is the first American since Andy Roddick in 2006. He advances that far at his home event at the Grand Slam.
Tiafoe will certainly have the majority of support at Arthur Ashe Stadium, with a capacity of approximately 28,000. He will also have the advantage of extra comfort.
His three-set match with Andrei Rublev was played in the day session, allowing Tiafoe to settle into the evening at his hotel as Alcaraz and Sener historically pushed each other deep into the night.
The match was the second longest-running match ever at the US Open, after the 1992 semi-finals between Stefan Edberg and Michael Chang, which Edberg won in five hours and 26 minutes.
But Alcaraz looked pessimistic as he tapped his chest and thanked the few thousand fans who stayed to the end, signing autographs before heading back into the tunnel with the digital clock in the stadium which turned out to be around 3am.
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