Carlos Alcaraz wins a five-set thriller against Frances Tiafoe to advance to the US Open final.

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By Creative Media News

After defeating Frances Tiafoe of the United States in a thrilling five-set US Open semi-final on Friday night in New York, Carlos Alcaraz is one victory away from a first grand slam triumph and the world No. 1 ranking.

In a 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-3 thriller, the 19-year-old Spaniard fought from behind and held on from ahead to earn a spot in Sunday’s final against fifth-seeded Casper Ruud, who defeated Karen Khachanov in the day’s first semi-final.

Alcaraz conjured his best tennis in one pressure moment with poise and nerve beyond his years, ending the deepest run by an American man at the US Open since Andy Roddick reached the final in 2006 and further enhancing his reputation as the best teenager in men’s tennis since Rafael Nadal nearly two decades ago.

Carlos alcaraz wins a five-set thriller against frances tiafoe to advance to the us open final.
Carlos alcaraz wins a five-set thriller against frances tiafoe to advance to the us open final.

Over more than four hours, Alcaraz and Tiafoe engaged in brutal baseline rallies and brilliant cat-and-mouse exchanges that covered every square inch of the court. Alcaraz, the No. 3 seed whose last two matches in this event lasted nearly 10 hours, produced the closing kick of a champion by winning four of the last five games with a match point in the fourth.

It was a sad loss for Tiafoe, the son of Sierra Leonean immigrants who began playing tennis at the facility where his father worked as a janitor. The 24-year-old from Hyattsville, Maryland, was seeded 22nd and was attempting to become the first Black American to reach a major final since MaliVai Washington at Wimbledon in 1996. Afterward, as he wiped away tears, he remarked, “Carlos was too good tonight.” “Tonight and for the past two weeks, I have given it everything I have. I came here to win the US Open, but I feel as though I’ve let everyone down. It’s quite painful. I will return, and I will win this contest one day.”

In the first 30 minutes of the first set, the players exchanged groundstrokes over 100 miles per hour while the tension grew hotter with each succeeding hold. Tiafoe endured the first test in the seventh game, holding from double break-point down, then again in the following service game, holding from 15-30 with a crunching ace and a backhand volley.

Then it was Alcaraz’s turn to wiggle, and he escaped a 4-5, 30-40 jam by showcasing the tactical acumen and smart point structuring he has relied on throughout his breakthrough season. However, after saving a set point to hold at 5-6 and three more in the first-set tiebreaker, Alcaraz ultimately succumbed on the fifth with a double fault that gave Tiafoe the opening set and energized the partisan audience, which included Michelle Obama.

After exchanging holds to open the second set, Alcaraz faced another gut-wrenching moment when serving at 30-all as Tiafoe ended another frantic rally with a brilliant backhand volley winner on break point.

But Alcaraz calmly brushed it aside with a cheeky drop shot from just inside the baseline, then went on to hold after winning an outrageous 17-stroke rally in which both players appeared defeated multiple times, a sequence that left Tiafoe unable to contain his laughter as he slumped in his chair during the changeover.

Alcaraz maintained his composure long enough to earn a break-point opportunity at 2-3, 30-40. Tiafoe rescued the point with a service winner at 136 mph, but the Spaniard capitalized on his second opportunity when Tiafoe overcooked a forehand from the baseline.

Even though the second set appeared to be lost, the American persisted long enough to complicate matters, avoiding the type of mental slip against superior players that have doomed him in recent years.

Both players came from off-court toilet breaks to a best-of-three showdown for a spot in the final after splitting the first two sets, but Tiafoe’s first extended mental lapse of the night paid him dearly when he was broken at love to open the third.

Alcaraz backed up the break with a love hold to continue a sequence of 10 consecutive points, incorporating more topspin and spice into the rallies and wearing Tiafoe down psychologically and physically with his range of shotmaking. Alcarez lifted his fist toward his box as the crowd fell silent as he won the third set in 33 minutes without facing a break point.

Nine of ten games were lost by Tiafoe, whose poise was destroyed by a whirlwind of double faults and unforced errors. Alcaraz pounced on his faltering opponent, luring him in with drop shots before delivering precise passes. If it were a boxing fight, the referee may have come forward to examine the situation closely. And when Tiafoe’s serve was broken in the first game of the set, the match appeared to be over.

However, Tiafoe managed to beat the count. He broke Alcaraz for the first time all evening in the next game to get back on serve, fell behind a break in the very next game, then broke again to loud applause from the fans.

After chasing down a match point at 4-5 to claw back from the brink, the former First Lady leaped from her courtside seat and pumped her fist as a wall of noise descended from the mezzanine. Before long, Tiafoe had forced a fifth and decisive set by winning eight tiebreakers out of eight opportunities in the event, surpassing Pete Sampras’ previous US Open record of seven wins out of seven opportunities.

Alcaraz stated, “It was a difficult time for me when I lost that match point by executing a drop shot that I could have won with a solid forehand.” “I assumed the fifth set was a new match. I must continue to play, play well, play my game, and believe.”

When Alcaraz broke to open the fifth, the crowd was once again hushed. They should have known better by the fourth game when Tiafoe broke back and rushed to his chair while pumping his fist. From that point on, though, the American was instantly broken in love, committing a double fault at the triple break point.

As the match reached its fifth hour, Alcaraz consolidated the break quickly with a love hold, then ground Tiafoe away with one high-probability shot, squeezing his opponent’s will and that of the spectators until reaching the finish line at 5:19 a.m. after 4hr 19min.

Already the youngest men’s grand slam semi-finalist since Nadal’s breakthrough run at the 2005 French Open, Alcaraz is only the second adolescent in the professional era after Sampras to reach the US Open men’s final.

If he wins Sunday’s final, the prodigy from the small village of El Palmar on Spain’s southern coast will become the youngest player in the history of the ATP to reach No. 1 in the world rankings. Tiafoe, whose $1.3 million prize for reaching the semifinals and defeating 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal along the road provided scant consolation in the aftermath of his tearful loss, could only tip his cap.

Certainly, he is one of the top players in the world, he stated. “He’s so young. He strikes the ball with such force. I’ve never played a character who moves as well as he does. I’ve witnessed him receiving numerous balls, but I’ve been hitting drop volleys. He is making progress. Incredible how he can stretch points.

“He is a phenomenal player. He will remain an issue for a very long time.”

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