Carlos Alcaraz has left the tennis world in awe after surviving another five-set marathon to win the final of the US Openat the expense of home hopeful Frances Tiafoe.
What could pass as semifinals for eternity, Alcaraz somehow still had enough in the tank after previously going the distance against Marin Cilic and Jannik Sinner in the round of 16 and quarterfinals respectively.
The Spanish teenager defeated an inspired game by Tiafoe to win 6-7 (8-6) 6-3 6-1 6-7 (7-5) 6-3 at Arthur Ashe Stadium to finish world No.1 against Casper Ruud in the final.
No. 3 Alcaraz led the way by winning nine games out of 10 in one go and could have ended the semi-finals when he held a match point in the fourth set.
Tiafoe saved that and forced a fifth set, improving to 8-0 in the tiebreak during the tournament.
Alcaraz showed no signs of tiring after their quarter-final win of five hours and 15 minutes that ended at 2.50am on Thursday and ended up better, winning four of their last five games.
Tennis fans were completely captivated by the match as it unfolded as the momentum swung back and forth between each player.
Alcaraz, 19, who now has a serious shot at taking the record for youngest world no. 1 from Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt, collapsed after eventually toppling Tiafoe.
The defeated American was all class afterwards, telling a roaring home crowd he felt he had “let everyone down” before vowing to return and win next year.
Alcaraz looked on his way to set things right again by breaking Tiafoe early in the fourth set, but the American brought the Stadion back to his side with two straight breaks from Alcaraz to take the fourth set 4-4 to finish, thanks largely to a run where he won eight of the last 10 points.
However, the Spaniard never went away and struggled through the next game to be a point away from victory before Tiafoe hit back with a great save to send serve to Alcaraz 5-5.
The two then split and Tiafoe forced another tiebreak, the eighth of the tournament.
After a 5-5 win, Tiafoe drilled an ace on a 130mph serve and then claimed the win after Alcaraz scored to give Tiafoe the win and send the match into a fifth set.
Despite Tiafoe carrying all that momentum and emotion, Alcaraz took back control with a break to open the fifth set.
Tiafoe seemed to get back in the game with a break to equalize 2-2, which showed Alcaraz frustration, but then Alcaraz found another gear.
Two more breaks from Tiafoe followed as missed first serves and unforced errors from the baseline piled up before Alcaraz secured his ultimate triumph.
Carlos Alcaraz meets Casper Ruud for first place in the US Open final
Alcaraz meet No7 Casper Ruud for the Championship on Sunday with so much at stake – the winner will become a major champion for the first time and top the rankings next week.
Ruud previously used his powerful forehand to reach his second Grand Slam final of the year by beating Russia’s Karen Khachanov 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 5-7 6-2.
The first Norwegian to reach the final at Flushing Meadows won an exceptional 55-shot rally to end the first set tiebreak on his way to victory at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“This match is probably the greatest match of our two careers,” said Ruud, who was humbled when he lost in straight sets to Rafa Nadal in the Roland Garros final in June.
“You want to take care of the opportunities you have, and today I was able to do that.”
The Roland-Garros runner-up is known for his aplomb on clay but proved just as effective on New York’s hard courts, winning 14 straight points to build a 5-1 lead in a nearly flawless second set.
His form deteriorated in the third set, where he made 11 unforced errors and handed the break to set point to Khachanov, who beat Australia’s Nick Kyrgios in the previous round.
However, Ruud rallied to convert breaks into chances in the third and fifth games of the fourth set and won the contest with a forehand winner, one of 20 in the entire game.
Ruud would make the jump from world No. 7 to No. 1 when he lifts the trophy on Sunday.
With Agencies/Yahoo Sport US
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