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Alcaraz outlasts Sinner in US Open quarter-final five-set instant classic

Carlos Alcaraz beat Jannik Sinner 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-7(0), 7-5, 6-3 in a US Open quarter-final match that will be remembered for a long time Alcaraz’s reward is a semi-final showdown against Frances Tiafoe.

Carlos Alcaraz, US Open 2022 Carlos Alcaraz after beating Jannik Sinner, US Open 2022 | © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Carlos Alcaraz vs Jannik Sinner on Thursday night was arguably one of the best matches in US Open history.

It was inarguably the latest.

Finishing at 2:50 in the morning, setting the record by 24 minutes, Alcaraz outlasted Sinner 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-7(0), 7-5, 6-3 in a classic quarter-final contest. The 19-year-old saved a match point in the fourth set and ended up triumphing after five hours and 15 minutes of enthralling tennis. It was the second-longest US Open match ever played.

“I still don’t know how I did it,” Alcaraz said, smiling, to the many fans still present in Arthur Ashe Stadium. “The level that I played, the level of the match, it was unbelievable. Jannik’s level is just amazing. Honestly, I will never be tired to say that it’s thanks to the support that I had from you in the bad moments.”

“I felt great,” he added during a quick press conference. “Probably at the end of the match I was in my end, let’s say. But during the whole match, five hours, 15 minutes of match, I feel great physically. Of course, the level of tennis that we have played, it was really, really high.”

Alcaraz saves match point in fourth set

Going into the match, Sinner led 2-1 in their head to head battles and had won the last two encounters, at Wimbledon and Umag earlier this summer. When he led by a break in the fourth set, serving for the match at 5-4, it looked like he would go on to see off his younger opponent once more.

But Alcaraz saved the match point with a good return that gave him control and then broke back to level at 5-5, before repeating the feat to take the set.

Even then, Alcaraz found himself in trouble in the fifth set, down an early break. But the 19-year-old broke back yet again for 3-3 and then snatched another break two games later before clinching victory on his first match point with an ace.

“I just tried to focus, try to put my best in every shot, in every game”, Alcaraz said. “I was returning pretty well. I had a lot of chances returning 40-All, 30-All, a lot of times. I just believed in myself that I could break in this moment. Things came in my favour.”

Double bid for history still alive

The victory keeps Alcaraz in the hunt to achieve two historic milestones. If he reaches the final, he will become world No 1 unless Casper Ruud wins his semi-final against Karen Khachanov. If that’s the case, then Alcaraz would need to win the title to hit top spot.

He is the youngest semi-finalist since a 19-year-old Pete Sampras in 1990, and Alcaraz will hope the omens are in his favour, since Sampras won the title that year.

First, though, the No 3 seed, who has played back-to-back five-setters (previously against Marin Cilic in the fourth round), will have a day off and then face Frances Tiafoe in the semis on Friday night.

“It’s going to be really, really tough,” Alcaraz admitted. “Frances, everybody know the level of Frances. He has beaten Rafa Nadal, Rublev in three sets. He’s playing unbelievable right now. High confidence.

“He loves the crowd. He loves this court. I’m going to have to put my best. But right now I’m thinking about this match. I’m enjoying this moment. I have a day of rest to think about the semi-final.”

Carlos Alcaraz after beating Jannik Sinner | © AI / Reuters / Panoramic

US OPEN, OTHER QUARTER-FINAL RESULTS

  • Frances Tiafoe beat Andrey Rublev (9): 7-6(3), 7-6(0), 6-4
  • Karen Khachanov (27) beat Nick Kyrgios (23): 7-5, 4-6, 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-4
  • Casper Ruud (5) beat Matteo Berrettini (13): 6-1, 6-4, 7-6(4)
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