Alcaraz enters the US Open final to fight for number one

History has already been made, breaking records along the way, but on Sunday his feat could be even greater: Carlos Alcaraz will play the most important match of his young career, in which not only the US Open will be played but also become the youngest world number one in history.

10 September 2022 Saturday 01:39
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Alcaraz enters the US Open final to fight for number one

History has already been made, breaking records along the way, but on Sunday his feat could be even greater: Carlos Alcaraz will play the most important match of his young career, in which not only the US Open will be played but also become the youngest world number one in history.

The Murcian defeated Frances Tiafoe, Nadal's executioner, in five sets, 6/7 (6), 6/3, 6/1, 6/7 (5) and 6/3, in 4 hours and 19 minutes of meeting .

It is easy to imagine the nerves with which Alcaraz would enter the track, with the weight of knowing that he was two steps away from history and even more, in what physical state he would be, after having played two marathons in his previous rounds, against Cilic and Sinner. More disturbing should be leaving knowing that he would not only face Tiafoe, but that he, an expert in crowd management (and even more so is his favorite track, before his audience) would have the support of practically the entire Arthur Ashe stadium. But the humble boy from Murcia set foot on the field as always, with a smile on his face and as if this were just another game. (We do not know if the procession would go inside). "I feel good. I had time to rest, ”he said in the entrance hall. Of course, he knew what awaited him. “ Frances is a crowd favorite, a showman. Everyone loves him and they like to watch him play”. Well true: even former first lady Michelle Obama, sitting in the front row of the presidential box, she made gestures of support and shouted "Let's go, Foe" (Come on, Foe) to Tiafoe when she first sat down in her bank.

The 24-year-old from Washington DC had also never been to a Grand Slam semifinal before, but he was also fighting to be the first American since Roddick to reach a major title match, and the first black since Arthur Ashe. But that was a burden for Tiafoe's men. Alcaraz did not think about it: “I am going to go out and have fun and enjoy myself”, he added.

The match began with a solid game by both opponents. He had chances to break Alcaraz first, two, but could not convert them. And then Tiafoe, in the eleventh, which was also a set point, but the one from El Palmar resolved it and forced sudden death. Alcaraz gave up the first mini-break with a double fault, giving the American 3 more set points. He outplayed Carlos and regained even in the twelfth point, but in the next point, he delivered the tie-break as he had started it, with another double fault.

The key moment of the second quarter was during the third game. In an advantage of Alcaraz, the Murcian makes a drop to which Tiafoe arrives; he throws a balloon at her, to which Tiafoe arrives; blows are exchanged from the bottom of the court until an angled backhand from Murcia leaves the ball almost dead on the sideline. Tiafoe jumps the net and makes an "okay, I'll quit" gesture before going to his chair. Carlos had two set points in the eighth that he could not take advantage of but serving for the set, after overcoming two break points, equalizes the match

Carlos is ahead on the scoreboard in the sixth game and in the eighth he has two set points, but the Washington player uses his service to get out of trouble and get 5-2. Serving through the second set, Tiafoe hits a couple of passings to the line that give him the opportunity to recover the lost serve, but with his characteristic strength Alcaraz does not let him and on the third set point he equalizes the match at a set apiece. .

The third set had little history. Tiafoe no longer showed the energy from the beginning of the contest, while Carlos, surprisingly, seemed fresher on his legs than in the previous two sets. Three breaks on the service of Frances and Alcaraz gets two sets to one.

Something happened to Frances in the fourth moto. After conceding 6-1 and the Murcian scoring the first two games without problems, a standing ovation from the stadium seemed to reenergize him. Breaks were exchanged and the balance was maintained. Until at 5-4 and the American served, Carlos had match point. He risked it for El Palmar with a dropshot that his rival answered with another winner. Tiafoe held there until the tie-break was reached. And in those he is a specialist: with the fourth set he has won 8-0 in this US Open, a record.

The final sleeve saw an Alcaraz who was going for work. He makes it 2-0 and Tiafoe recovers in the third, but Carlitos breaks again and keeps his distance. In the ninth, with the American's service, it was 0-40 and three more match points. He saves the first, hits an ace for the second, but on the third, it's the charm.

Carlitos throws himself to the ground and covers his face with his hands. He was in his first Grand Slam final, having come through the last three rounds in five-set matches (something only Edberg and Agassi had done before). “It is a Grand Slam semifinal, we had to give everything we had inside, we had to fight until the last hour. It doesn't matter how long you've been on the track”, he explained excitedly to Patrick McEnroe on the track. “Now I am in my first Grand Slam final. I can see the number one in the world, but at the same time he is very far away. I have to win one more match against a player who plays incredible, he has already played the Roland Garros final and he deserved another one. For me it is the first and I am going to give everything I have, I will have to control the nerves of being in a final, but that is what I always say. I'm going to enjoy the moment and see what happens."

At the moment, today Saturday has a rest day. “It will be like the other rest days. Although after such demanding games, that I have not been able to go to bed at the time I should, maybe I will relax a bit and go for a walk with the family and the team, to clear my head a bit and have fun with them. And obviously, also prepare myself mentally for the final”.

Casper Ruud awaits him on Sunday, number 7 in the world, who also opts for the world tennis throne if he wins his first Grand Slam. The Norwegian eliminated Russian Karen Kachenov in the first semifinal in four sets, 7/6, 6/2, 5/7 and 6/2, in three hours of play.

"I feel beyond what words can describe," said Ruud. "After Roland Garros I was extremely happy, but also humbled enough to think that it could be the only Grand Slam final of my career, and a few months later, here I am again."

It was a meeting of long exchanges and strong blows, balanced in the power of the shots but with a more precise Ruud than his rival, who was the first time he had played in the semifinal of a major and showed a little more nerves. An example of the style of the match was the rally they had on the third set point, with 55 shots, which ended up giving the Scandinavian the sleeve.

"I played very well in the second and fourth sets, and Karen had a very strong third." The Norwegian knew how to keep his nerve when Kachenov picked up the momentum and managed to win the third set. “Tennis is a psychological sport as well as a physical one. At the time he thought it was a big game and he knew it wouldn't be the end of the world if he lost it, because hopefully there will be hundreds of other big games in my career."

In the junior team, the Spanish Martín Landaluce also qualified for the final after beating the Paraguayan Daniel Vallejo, the first favorite in the category, by 6/3 and 6/2. The 16-year-old from Madrid, who trains at the Madrid Federation, will fight for the crown against Belgian Gilles Arnaud Bailly, second seeded, whom he had previously defeated, in the round of 16 at Wimbledon.



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