US Open – Prodigy Carlos Alcaraz challenges Frances Tiafoe, the hope of a nation: Flushing will blow the show

US Open – Prodigy Carlos Alcaraz challenges Frances Tiafoe, the hope of a nation: Flushing will blow the show

US Open – Prodigy Carlos Alcaraz challenges Frances Tiafoe, the hope of a nation: Flushing will blow the show

The context

Anyone who had bet on such a plateau for the semifinals (Alcaraz-Tiafoe and Ruud-Khachanov) of the US Open was well inspired. But among the four contenders for the trophy, if there is one player we expected at this stage, it is Carlos Alcaraz. Despite his 19 years, Murcian remained in a quarter at Flushing Meadows last summer, and were mostly seeded No.3 by entering the fortnight. Finally, his presence is therefore a certain logic even if it remains exceptional for such a young player. On the other hand, Frances Tiafoe really amazed the world of her.

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Before this fortnight, the American had reached at best only a quarter-final of the Grand Slam, almost four years ago at the Australian Open 2019. Rafael Nadal, took a sensational rematch a few days ago in the eighth, his third consecutive participation in the second week in New York – while destroying the dreams of the Majorcan’s Small Slam.

Tiafoe is still on the cloud: the recap of his fourth victory against Rublev on video

With his aggression, his explosiveness, his enthusiasm, his passion and his focus (an area in which he made enormous progress in contact with his new coach Wayne Ferreira) at all times, “Big Foe” has achieved a top-notch performance that brought tears to my eyes. But perhaps his strongest was his ability to turn the page quickly to confirm his feat during his fourth against Andrey Rublev. To pursue his dream of succeeding Andy Roddick, the last American winner in front of his home crowd in 2003, he will have to stay on his cloud.

Because against Carlos Alcaraz, even Tiafoe will not be the favorite, even if he is five years older than his rival. The Murcian, already with extraordinary regularity in excellence, intends to complete a hair-raising year in New York that could consecrate him as the youngest world number 1 in football history. Perseverance and mind-boggling talent against Marin Cilic (ex winner) and especially Jannik Sinner during a monumental neighborhood, nothing seems to be able to stop him. Except maybe fatigue and a Tiafoe still on fire …

Face to face

Slight advantage … Tiafoe. The Americans thus emerged victorious from their only previous confrontation. He was on the red clay of Barcelona last year (6-4, 7-6). It is difficult for all this to draw a conclusion because the Spaniard has taken on a sacred dimension in recent months. There is even a world of difference between the promising young man he was then and the now presumed cadore of the circuit he has become.

A match that will go down in history: the highlights of an exceptional Alcaraz-Sinner

Their journey

Carlos Alcaraz

Lap 1: beats Sebastian Baez [ARG] retired 7-5, 7-5, 2-0 inhab.
2nd round: defeats Federico Coria [ARG] 6-2, 6-1, 7-5
Round 3: Defeats Jenson Brooksby [E-U] 6-3, 6-3, 6-3
1/8 finals: defeats Marin Cilic [CRO/N.15] 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
1/4 final: beat Jannik Sinner [ITA/N.11] 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-7 (0), 7-5, 6-3

Francesca Tiafè

1st round: defeats Marcos Giron [E-U] 7-6 (0), 6-4, 6-3
2nd round: defeats Jason Kubler [AUS] 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-6 (2)
3rd round: defeats Diego Schwartzman [ARG/N.14] 7-6 (7), 6-4, 6-4
Round of 16: Defeat Rafael Nadal [ESP/N.2] 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3
1/4 final: beat Andrey Rublev [RUS/N.9] 7-6 (3), 7-6 (0), 6-4

They said

Carlos Alcaraz:It’s great to reach my first Grand Slam semi-final, especially here at the US Open. The tournament is great. The public too. I would also say it is the best in the world. The energy I received on this field at 3am is incredible. In other tournaments people probably would have left, but they stayed there and supported me. “

Francesca Tiafoe: “I love playing on large fields that are filled to the brim. I love to show the world what I am capable of. When people appreciate good tennis and my persistence, it makes me feel good. Especially knowing where I come from. Seeing so many people behind me means a lot. I just want to give the audience what they want and they want to see me win. “

Four sets for a monumental undertaking: how Tiafoe tamed Nadal

Three statistics to remember

10. This is the number of hours (and dust) that separated the respective qualifications of Frances Tiafoe on Wednesday afternoon (around 4:45 pm) and Carlos Alcaraz early Thursday morning (2:52 am, record at Flushing meadows). Although the Spaniard recovers quickly, this delay could weigh on his legs during this semi-final. In addition, he has spent 1 hour and 27 minutes more on the pitch than his future opponent in these fortnight (16:00 vs 14:33).

1972. Frances Tiafoe became the first African American to reach the semifinals of the US Open in 50 years and Arthur Ashe in 1972. By a twist of fate, she achieved this performance on the field that bears the name of her illustrious predecessor. All the origins put together, it had been 16 years since a representative of the star banner had come this far: Tiafoe also succeeded Andy Roddick in 2006.

36. Or the number of breaks made in five games by Carlos Alcaraz, leader in this sector (tied with Jannik Sinner). Frances Tiafoe scored only 20, the tenth best overall. The Spaniard would therefore do well to assert his qualities as a raiser because if the two players were to play one or more tie-breaks, the balance of power could very well be overturned. The American won his six decisive games of the tournament (6-0), while Alcaraz lost the two plays (0-2).

Our opinion

Anything other than a winners firework and an overheated atmosphere would be disappointing. Given the liabilities in this fortnight of the two jokers who will compete in the spotlight of the Arthur-Ashe court on the night from Friday to Saturday and their state of form, there should be sparks. Each in their own way, Carlos Alcaraz and Frances Tiafoe showed great panache to validate their place in the semi-finals. And at this point, it would be surprising if they didn’t continue their momentum.

But who will be the more liberated of the two? “Big Foe” looks over the moon and on a mission to perform the feat of a lifetime in front of his audience. Carlos Alcaraz has also shattered his glass ceiling, but he will have an additional challenge in mind (which he shares with Casper Ruud in the other half): the prospect of becoming the number 1 in the world at the end of the tournament, and moreover the most young in history. At 19, although exceptional, he is not entirely insensitive to pressure.

The other issue is Murciano’s ability to recover. Sure his youth and his immense physical progress will help him, but the eighth-final and quarter-finals could weigh on his legs. Unless the prospect of a final gives him an extra soul. In the event of a long struggle, the experience gained from his two previous successes could be crucial. For the standings and the season, he remains the favorite, even slightly. It’s up to him to hire it again.

Our prediction: Carlos Alcaraz in four sets.

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