No one will soon forget the epic US Open quarter-final between Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner. In a classic encounter that broke the record for the last result in tournament history when play ended at 2:50 a.m., Alcaraz outlasted Sinner 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-7( 0), 7-5, 6-3, saving a match point in the fourth set en route to their five-hour-and-15-minute triumph. The battle was the second longest match in US Open history.
The Spaniard saved the match point at 4-5 in the fourth set and rallied to keep his hopes alive of becoming the youngest world number one in Pepperstone’s ATP rankings history next Monday. The 19-year-old, who with this victory qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time, will face American Frances Tiafoe in the semi-finals on Friday.
“Honestly, I still don’t know how I did it,” Alcaraz said. “You have to believe in yourself. I believed in my game.
“It was really difficult to finish the match. I tried to stay calm, but it’s difficult at the moment.”
Fans inside Arthur Ashe Stadium arrived for a tennis match on Wednesday night. By the time the clock struck midnight, this clash turned into a heavyweight fight. More than two hours later, both men were still bludgeoning the ball with relentless force and showing incredible speed and athleticism to fend off each other’s attacks. Much of the crowd stayed and cheered on the two players, which created an unforgettable atmosphere despite the late hour.
As much skill was displayed in the match, there was just as much courage and willpower. Both men refused to lose, but only one was able to advance. It was as if the former Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champions were playing a video game, reaching “maximum power” and only rarely missing. “Looks like I’m watching a table tennis match,” tweeted Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez.
— Feliciano Lopez (@feliciano_lopez) September 8, 2022
Three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka also offered his praise, asking “How good is this Alcaraz-Sinner matchup?”
— Stanislas Wawrinka (@stanwawrinka) September 8, 2022
The level was so high that the match will be remembered as the moment Alcaraz and Sinner emerged from the shadow of the ‘Big Three’ era. Their fourth ATP Head2Head encounter lived up to the hype and felt like more than a quarter-final. Alcaraz, who have lost twice to Sinner in the last three months, stabilized their rivalry at 2-2 behind 58 winners against just 38 unforced errors.
“I will enjoy [achieving] my first semi-final of a Grand Slam and tomorrow will be the time to think about the match [with Tiafoe]“, said Alcaraz.
Alcaraz was unable to convert opportunities to win the second and third sets which almost proved fatal. The 19-year-old dropped five set points in the second set and couldn’t serve in the third set.
The teenager unleashed haymaker after haymaker to put himself in a winning position in both sets, but Sinner repeatedly bounced off the ropes and turned around hard. These moments were less about what Alcaraz did wrong and more about what Sinner did right, as he raised his level and often hit hard shots.
When the Italian played an exquisite tie-break in the third set, which he won 7/0, the momentum was firmly on his side. An early break in the fourth set helped his cause. Alcaraz backed up once, but quickly gave up that advantage by hitting a double fault to let his momentum slip away.
Sinner, who double faulted 11 times in the match, served for their semifinal spot at 5-4 in the fourth set. Although his serve got him out of some trouble, Alcaraz never left and fought back to par.
Sinner, 21, then led by a break in the third set, but Alcaraz never left, continuing to fire with his remarkable power from the baseline. The Spaniard won the last four games of the clash to qualify.
Carlos Alcaraz saves MP and outlasts Jannik Sinner in historic US Open QF thriller | ATP Tour | Tennis