Carlos Alcaraz, who rained down 59 winners, won his third straight five-setter match as he nears a first Slam and the title of youngest-ever world number one.
New York: Carlos Alcaraz overcame Frances Tiafoe in a bloody US Open semifinal on Friday, setting up a matchup with Casper Ruud for the championship and the top spot in the world rankings.
The 19-year-old Spaniard won in five sets, going 6-7 (6/8), 6-3, 6-1, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, to become the youngest man to reach a Grand Slam final since compatriot Rafael Nadal won the 2005 French Open and the first of his 22 Slams.
Ruud, who is ranked ninth in Norway, earlier overcame Karen Khachanov of Russia 7-6 (7/5), 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 to get to his maiden Grand Slam final.
But Tiafoe fought to the end, recovering breaks in the final two sets and fending off three match points.
Alcaraz, the youngest US Open finalist since Pete Sampras in 1990, remarked, “We are in the semi-final of a Grand Slam, we have to give everything we have within, we have to fight till the last ball.”
“Whether you struggle for five or six hours makes no difference. It makes no difference; you must give your all on the court.
Alcaraz, who rained down 59 winners, won his third straight five-setter match as he nears a first Slam and the title of youngest-ever world number one.
“This is my first appearance in a Grand Slam final. I can see the top spot in the world, but it’s so far away,” he continued.
“I’m going to commit every last bit of me. I will have to deal with my nerves of playing in a Grand Slam final, but I’m certainly thrilled.
Tiafoe praised his victor.
Tiafoe remarked, “I did everything I had; Carlos was too excellent tonight.
“Honestly, I wanted to win the US Open when I got here, and I feel like I let you guys down. This one hurts a lot.
In the seventh game of the first set, Alcaraz saw two break points come and go before having to save a set point in the 12th, which included an incredible rally that the Spaniard won from two seemingly hopeless positions.
When Alcaraz served his third double fault in the 64-minute opener, Tiafoe converted his fifth set point, despite the teenager saving three more during the tiebreak.
In the third game of the second set, Alcaraz saved a break point by extending for the winning point with his back to Tiafoe and won yet another spectacular rally.
His flamboyance was rewarded when Tiafoe buried a return in the goal to help him break for 4-2 and tie the semi-final.
Alcaraz took nine hours and ten sets to complete his final two rounds, which included a quarterfinal that ended at 2:50 a.m. on Thursday.
He did, however, appear to be the more rested of the two as he quickly broke twice to take a 4-0 lead in the third set while giving Tiafoe only three points.
Alcaraz broke the American a third time in the seventh game just for good measure.
Tiafoe, ranked 26th in the world, eliminated Nadal from the competition in the round of 16, and he was aiming to become the first American man to compete in a major final since Andy Roddick at Wimbledon in 2009.
He tenaciously saved two break points in the fourth set, saved a match point in the tenth game with a cool-headed drop shot, and then won the tiebreak to force a deciding.
For the American, it was his eighth out of eight victorious tiebreak.
In the fifth set, Alcaraz broke for 2-0 before Tiafoe once more fought back to even the score at 2-2.
But in the fifth game, the American double-failed, giving the edge back.
Before Alcaraz went on to secure the victory in the ninth game after four hours and 19 minutes, Tiafoe saved two more match points.
After losing to Nadal in the French Open final in June, Ruud will play in his second Grand Slam final of the year.
After Roland Garros, I was overjoyed but also humble enough to believe that might have been the only Grand Slam final of my career.
They are difficult to obtain. So here I am a few months later, and it feels indescribably good.
When he won a 55-shot rally to convert a third set point in the first tiebreak of the semi-final, which his Russian opponent dubbed “crazy,” the 23-year-old Norwegian set the tone for his dominance early on.