Carlos Alcaraz beats Frances Tiafoe in US Open semis in battle of rising tennis stars



CNN

Frances Tiafoe’s US Open career ended on Friday with a loss against the then-No. Carlos Alcaraz, third seed in the semifinals.

After falling in the match, Tiafoe had forced a fifth set, delighting the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd, which included Michelle Obama. But it was the 19-year-old and world no. 4 from Spain who advanced, 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-3 in four hours and 19 minutes.

Alcaraz will face Norwegian Casper Ruud, the no. 5th seed, in Sunday’s final, and the stakes are high: the winner will move up to the no. 1 in the world for the first time.

The no. Tiafoe, 24, was looking to become the first American men’s Grand Slam finalist since Andy Roddick at Wimbledon in 2009. Roddick was the last American man to reach the final US Open in 2006 and is the last American man to win a major, coming at the US Open in 2003.

“Too good from Carlos tonight,” Tiafoe told ESPN in front of the crowd. “I gave everything I had. I gave everything I had the last two weeks. Honestly, I came here and I wanted to win the US Open. I’m sorry to let you down. This one hurts a lot. That hurts a lot.” .

Alcaraz “is going to win a lot of Grand Slams,” Tiafoe told the teenage phenom. “You’re a hell of a player, a hell of a person. I’m glad I got to share the court on such a big stage with you. I’ll come back and one day win this thing. Sorry guys.”

Alcaraz celebrates after winning the semi-final match against Tiafoe.

If Alcaraz wins the final, he will become the youngest number in the world. 1. Should he rise to the top, he would tie Carlos Moya, Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras for the biggest jumps to world no. 1 (from No. 4).

“It’s amazing to be able to fight for big things,” Alcaraz told ESPN in a courtside interview. “First time in a Grand Slam final. I can see the No. 1 in the world, but at the same time, he’s so far away, you know? I’ve got one more to go against a player who’s playing incredibly. … I’m going to give everything I have.”

Should the 23-year-old Ruud win the title, he would make the biggest jump to No. 1 in the history of men’s tennis. He entered the US Open ranked seventh. She defeated Russian Karen Khachanov, the No. 1. 27 seed, 7-6(5), 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 in the previous Friday’s semifinal.

“I think the fairest thing is that we both get to the final and whoever wins the final gets to No. 1 in the world. 1,” Ruud told reporters as Alcaraz played in his semi-final. I think that would be the ideal situation.

This will be Ruud’s second Grand Slam final appearance, having lost in the French Open final earlier this year to Rafael Nadal. Nadal, who lost to Tiafoe in the round of 16, would have climbed to no. 1 in the world if Ruud and Alcaraz had both lost in the semi-finals of the US Open.

This will be Alcaraz’s first Grand Slam final.

This year saw four first-time US Open men’s semi-finalists for the first time since the inaugural US Championships in 1881 (William Glyn, Robert Gould Shaw, Edward Gray, Richard Sears). Sears won that title.

Tiafoe, here celebrating after defeating Russian Andrey Rublev in the quarter-finals, had the best Grand Slam tournament of his career.

For years, tennis fans have dreaded the day when the sport’s “Big Three” finally decide to hang up their rackets.

Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are arguably the three greatest players of all time – regardless of the order in which you rank them depends on personal preference – and their inevitable Tour exits will leave a hole that no player will not be able to fill.

However, the rise of youngsters such as Daniil Medvedev, Alex Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas in recent years has provided enough evidence to suggest that there will be no shortage of entertainment and drama once the ‘Big Three’ finally decide to call it quits.

This season, fans have seen the emergence of another future superstar in Alcaraz, while Tiafoe, now 24, finally came of age at the US Open and made the breakthrough in a major slam that many have predicted for a couple of years.

Coming from the region of Murcia in Spain and as a clay specialist, Alcaraz has drawn comparisons with his compatriot and idol Nadal.

But while the 19-year-old has immense respect for the player he admired during his childhood, Alcaraz has no desire to be dubbed “the next Christmas” or “mini Christmas”, as has happened in more than an occasion during his fledgling career.

Instead, as he told CNN Sport in March, he wants to carve out his own legacy and be known only as Alcaraz.

TO READ: Carlos Alcaraz reaches the first Grand Slam semifinal after a marathon, night final against Jannik Sinner

Carlos Alcaraz overcame a marathon quarterfinal against Jannik Sinner.

He has certainly come a long way to achieve that.

After winning his first ATP title in 2021, Alcaraz has thrived even more in 2022, winning four titles, including two Masters 1000 tournaments, to climb the rankings to no. 4 in the world.

“I mean, it all came so fast, two Masters 1000 titles — one on hard court, one on clay,” he told CNN’s Don Riddell in May.

“So if someone told me at the beginning of the season that I would win these tournaments – Barcelona too – I didn’t believe it, I didn’t believe it. For me, I don’t know what to say about an amazing month for me.

“It’s good that everyone is talking about you and going to see your game. For me, it’s pretty good. But it gives me a lot of power to play in the best stadiums against the best players in the world. So for me, it’s pretty cool.” .

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 08: Carlos Alcaraz of Spain poses for photographs with the trophy after his straight sets victory during the men's singles final match against Alexander Zverev of Germany during day eleven of the Mutua Madrid Open at La Caja Magica on May 8, 2022 in Madrid, Spain (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Carlos Alcaraz on CNN: “I’m playing incredible tennis”

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– Source: CNN

He entered this year’s French Open in sensational form and was tipped by many to be among the favorites to win, but lost in the quarter-finals to Zverev.

Now, in New York, he has reached the final of a Grand Slam for the first time and as the top seed left in the draw he will be the favorite to win.

Tiafoe, five years Alcaraz’s senior, won his first ATP title in 2018 and many believed it would be a victory that would spark a rapid rise to the top.

Although still touted as a rising star, this rise has been steady rather than meteoric. Last month, Tiafoe reached a career high of no. 24 in the world – he is currently 26th – and this year he has shown flashes of the quality that many predicted would take him to the top.

But make no mistake, given Tiafoe’s disappointing form at the US Open, there was no indication he would make a deep run in New York. However, the big Washington, DC native has mentioned on more than one occasion how Arthur Ashe’s home support has spurred him on to new heights.

By winning his quarter-final, Tiafoe became the first black American to reach a US Open semi-final since Ashe in 1972.

His father, Constant Tiafoe, started working at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in Washington in 1999 and eventually moved into one of its empty warehouses while working around the clock.

TO READ: How Frances Tiafoe went from sleeping in a tennis center to the semi-finals of the US Open

Frances Tiafoe appears in her first Grand Slam semifinal.

His twins, Frances and Franklin, sometimes stayed with him, sleeping on a massage table, while their mother worked the night shift as a nurse.

The unusual entry into the sport gave Tiafoe the opportunity to start developing his skills and after he started training at the facility, he didn’t look back.

“Obviously I wasn’t the rich kid or I didn’t have all the new stuff or whatever. But I was just living life. I could play tennis for free, the sport I loved,” he told CNN Sport in 2015 , adding that she wouldn’t change her education for the world.

He was asked Wednesday what message people should take away from his story.

“I mean, anybody can do it, honestly,” he said, adding that his passion and obsession is tennis. “Obviously, that’s a cliché, but I think if you’re really passionate about something … Everyone has a gift.”

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