Spanish Carlos Alcaraz, 4th in the world, qualified on the night between Wednesday and Thursday at the US Open for his first Grand Slam semifinal, saving a match point against Italian Jannik Sinner before imposing 6-3, 6-7 (7/9), 6-7 (0/7), 7-5, 6-3 and 5h15 of play.
“I don’t know how I did it, the level of play, the level of the game was …”, confided Alcaraz who had no words after a long and respectful hug with Sinner. It was 2:50 am in Flushing Meadows, where never in tournament history had a game finished after 2:26 am.
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At 19 she will face American Frances Tiafoe (26th) on Friday, who eliminated Andrey Rublev on Tuesday evening, to try to reach the final and hope to become world number 1 on Monday. “Frances has beaten Rafa, Rublev, he is very confident, she will be really tough. But I want to take advantage of this moment, of my first qualification in the middle”, commented the Spaniard.
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We feared the void that the departures of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic would inevitably leave. This year’s showdown between Sinner and Alcaraz, in 8th place at Wimbledon and in the quarter-finals at the US Open, alone bodes well for great years of breathtaking duels. Alcaraz took revenge on Sinner (21), on the hard, after losing in the final on the grass of Wimbledon and then on the clay of Umag.
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Alcaraz dominated the first set by taking Sinner’s serve three times who only recovered one serve from the Spaniard. He then lost many chances: missed 5 set points in the 2nd set, then he served for the set in the third at 6-5. But Sinner came back and easily won the tie break.
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Alcaraz had the merit of never giving up. Even broken in the decisive set (3-2 for Sinner), he immediately returned and in turn managed the counterattack bringing him to 5-3 and serving for the match. This time he didn’t miss the chance and ended the second longest game in history after the 1992 Edberg-Chang which lasted 5:26.