Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz ended Frances Tiafoe’s dream run at the US Open with a 6-7(6/8), 6-3, 6-1, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3 win to reach his first major final.
- Alcaraz will play Casper Ruud in the men’s final
- The 19-year-old will become number one in the world if he beats Ruud
- Ruud defeated Karen Khachanov 7-6 (7/5), 6-2, 5-7, 6-2
Alcaraz will face Norwegian fifth seed Casper Ruud, who reached his second major singles final by beating Russian Karen Khachanov 7-6 (7/5), 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.
Despite playing into the early morning hours in his previous two five-set matches, 19-year-old Alcaraz showed no signs of fatigue against Tiafoe, racing around the court to win the hard-fought battle.
“We are in a semi-final at a grand slam (tournament) and we have to give everything we have inside, we have to fight until the last ball,” Alcaraz said in an on-court interview.
“It doesn’t matter if we are fighting for five hours, six hours. You have to give everything on court. Frances gave everything on court. This is amazing.”
If he can beat Ruud, third-seeded Alcaraz would become the youngest man to be crowned world number one, breaking the mark set by Australian Lleyton Hewitt, who was 20 when he became the world’s top ranked player in 2001.
Tiafoe had the sold-out crowd in his corner, especially after he saved a match point in the fourth set.
But there was still plenty of love for Alcaraz, who has electrified the tennis world with his acrobatic shot-making and youthful vigour.
Alcaraz got off to a sluggish start, double faulting twice in the first set tie-breaker, including one on set point to hand Tiafoe a 1-0 lead.
He raised his level to win the second set, breezed through the one-sided third and took Tiafoe to the brink in the fourth before the American produced an incredible fight-back, winning his eighth tie-breaker of the tournament to set up a decider.
But Alcaraz broke to open the fifth set and never looked back, sealing the win when Tiafoe’s shot hit the net on match point.
It was the 50th match win for Alcaraz, the most of any player on the ATP Tour this year.
Alcaraz will look to claim what could be the first of many major trophies when he faces French Open finalist Ruud, who produced a confident performance over Khachanov.
The Spaniard beat Ruud in straight sets in the Miami Open final in April.
“It’s amazing to be able to fight for big things. First time in a final of a grand slam tournament. I can see the number one in the world and at the same time it is so far away,” Alcaraz said.