NEW YORK (AFP) – Carlos Alcaraz battled past Jannik Sinner in five sets to reach the US Open semi-finals on Thursday (Sept 8) in the latest ever finish in the tournament’s 141-year history.
A thrilling 5hr 15min duel that finished at 2:50am local time ended with the 19-year-old Alcaraz claiming a 6-3, 6-7 (7-9), 6-7 (0-7), 7-5, 6-3 victory to advance to a last-four showdown with Frances Tiafoe of the United States on Friday.
The previous record for the latest finish to a US Open match was 2:26am, which had been set three times before.
Incredibly, it was the second early-hours-of-the-morning finish for Alcaraz this week.
The Spanish No. 3 seed had edged past Croatia’s Marin Cilic in another five-set epic in the fourth round in a match that finished at 2.23am local time on Tuesday.
A crowd of a few thousand die-hard spectators roared their appreciation for Alcaraz as he collapsed to the Arthur Ashe Stadium court in delight after a famous victory over Sinner, the 21-year-old Italian 11th seed.
“Honestly, I still don’t know I did it,” said Alcaraz after a win which came after he survived a match point in the fourth set.
“It was a high quality and unbelievable match. Jannik is a great player. His level is just amazing.
“I always say that you have to believe in yourself all the time. Hope is the last thing that you lose. I just believed in myself and believed in my game.”
A shattered Sinner said the defeat was the hardest of his young career.
“I had some tough losses for sure, and this is in the top list,” he said.
“I think this one will hurt for quite a while but tomorrow – or today – I wake up and try to somehow take the positives but it’s tough for sure.”
Alcaraz got off to a smooth start after taking the first set 6-3, breaking Sinner twice towards the end of the set to to seize an early advantage.
But Sinner showed great character to level in the second set, recovering from 5-6, 0-40 down to force a tie break.