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US Open 2022: Alcaraz outlasts Sinner in historic quarters, to face Tiafoe in semis

New York, Sep 8 (IANS) Carlos Alcaraz outlasted Jannik Sinner 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-7(0), 7-5, 6-3 in an epic five-hour, 15-minute long quarter-final to reach the semi-final of US Open 2022, here.

The classic quarterfinal between Alcaraz and Sinner ended at 0250 hrs on late Wednesday night and became the second-longest match in US Open history.

Before this match, the most late finish in US Open history was 0226 hrs, which happened three times. The longest match in event history came in the 1992 semi-finals between Stefan Edberg and Michael Chang, which lasted five hours and 26 minutes.

The Spaniard saved match point at 4-5 in the fourth set and rallied to maintain his hopes of becoming the youngest World No. 1 in the history of the ATP Rankings next Monday. The 19-year-old, who with the win qualified for the ATP Finals for the first time, will face American Frances Tiafoe on Friday in the semi-finals.

“Honestly, I still don’t know how I did it.You have to believe in yourself. I believed in my game,” said Alcaraz, who signed autographs for fans despite the late hour and tossed his sneakers into the crowd.

“It was really difficult to close out the match. I tried to stay calm, but it is difficult at the moment,” he added.

The fans inside Arthur Ashe Stadium arrived for a tennis match on Wednesday evening. By the time the clock struck midnight, that clash turned into a heavyweight fight. More than two hours later, both men were still bludgeoning the ball with unrelenting force and showed incredible speed and athleticism to repel each other’s attacks.

As much skill was on display in the match, there was just as much courage and will. Both men refused to lose, but only one was able to advance. The level was so high, the match may be remembered as the moment in which Alcaraz and Sinner stepped out of the shadow of the ‘Big Three’ era.

Their fourth ATP Head to Head meeting lived up to the hype and felt like more than a quarter-final. Alcaraz, who lost twice against Sinner in the past three months, levelled their rivalry at 2-2 behind 58 winners compared to just 38 unforced errors.

Alcaraz was unable to convert opportunities to win the second and third sets, which nearly proved fatal. The 19-year-old let slip five set points in the second set and was unable to serve out the third set.

The teen unleashed haymaker after haymaker to put himself in a winning position in both sets, but Sinner repeatedly bounced off the ropes and swung back with force. Those moments were less about what Alcaraz did wrong and more about what Sinner did well, as he raised his level and often hit highlight-reel shots.

When the Italian played an exquisite third-set tie-break, which he won 7/0, the momentum was firmly on his side. An early break in the fourth set helped his cause. Alcaraz broke back once, but quickly relinquished that advantage by hitting a double fault to let slip his momentum.

Sinner, who hit 11 double faults in the match, served for his place in the semi-final at 5-4 in the fourth set. Although his serve got him out of some trouble, Alcaraz never went away and again battled back onto even terms.

The 21-year-old Sinner then led by a break in the fifth set, but Alcaraz rallied, continuing to fire with his remarkable power from the baseline. The Spaniard won the final four games of the clash to advance.

With his victory, Alcaraz became the youngest Grand Slam men’s semifinalist since Rafael Nadal, 19, at 2005 Roland Garros. He is also the youngest US Open men’s semifinalist since Pete Sampras, 19, in 1990.

“It’s not easy to talk now because I finished the match not so long ago. But it was a good match from my side, from his side. Could finish in three sets, could finish in four sets, could finish in five sets. The level was high,” Sinner said.

“At some point I didn’t serve that well, but he was returning well. It was a good match. Obviously the crowd was good. For me only the second time on Ashe. So it was a good match for sure. But a very, very tough one,” he added.

–IANS

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