Nobody will soon forget the epic US Open quarter-final between Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner. In a classic encounter that shattered the record for latest finish 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 one match point in the fourth set en route to his five-hour, 15-minute triumph. The battle was the second-longest match in US Open history.
The Spaniard saved match point at 4-5 in the fourth set and rallied to maintain his hopes of becoming the youngest World No. 1 in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings next Monday. The 19-year-old, who with the win qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time, will face American Frances Tiafoe on Friday in the semi-finals.
“Honestly, I still don’t know how I did it,” said Alcaraz, who signed autographs for fans despite the late hour and tossed his sneakers into the crowd. “You have to believe in yourself. I believed in my game.
“It was really difficult to close out the match. I tried to stay calm, but it is difficult in the moment.”
The fans inside Arthur Ashe Stadium arrived for a tennis match on Wednesday evening. By the time the clock struck midnight, that clash turned into a heavyweight fight. More than two hours later, both men were still bludgeoning the ball with unrelenting force and showed incredible speed and athleticism to repel each other’s attacks. A large portion of the crowd remained and encouraged both players, which made for an unforgettable atmosphere despite the late hour.
As much skill was on display in the match, there was just as much courage and will. 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, hitting “maximum power” and only rarely missing. “Seems like i am watching a table tennis match,” Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez tweeted.
Seems like i am watching a table tennis match🔥@janniksin vs @carlosalcaraz
— Feliciano López (@feliciano_lopez) September 8, 2022
Three-time major winner Stan Wawrinka also chimed in with his praise, asking “How good is this match Alcaraz-Sinner?”
How good is this match #Alcaraz – #Sinner ? @usopen 🔥💣
— Stanislas Wawrinka (@stanwawrinka) September 8, 2022
The level was so high, the match may be remembered as the moment in which Alcaraz and Sinner stepped out of the shadow of the ‘Big Three’ era. Their fourth ATP Head2Head meeting lived up to the hype and felt like more than a quarter-final. Alcaraz, who lost twice against Sinner in the past three months, levelled their rivalry at 2-2 behind 58 winners compared to just 38 unforced errors.
“I am going to enjoy [achieving] my first semi-final of a Grand Slam and tomorrow will be the time to think about the match [with Tiafoe],” Alcaraz said.
Alcaraz was unable to convert opportunities to win the second and third sets, which nearly proved fatal. The 19-year-old let slip five set points in the second set and was unable to serve out the third set.
The teen unleashed haymaker after haymaker to put himself in a winning position in both sets, but Sinner repeatedly bounced off the ropes and swung back with force. Those moments were less about what Alcaraz did wrong and more about what Sinner did well, as he raised his level and often hit highlight-reel shots.
When the Italian played an exquisite third-set tie-break, which he won 7/0, the momentum was firmly on his side. An early break in the fourth set helped his cause. Alcaraz broke back once, but quickly relinquished that advantage by hitting a double fault to let slip his momentum.
Sinner, who hit 11 double faults in the match, served for his place in the semi-final at 5-4 in the fourth set. Although his serve got him out of some trouble, Alcaraz never went away and again battled back onto even terms.
The 21-year-old Sinner then led by a break in the fifth set, but Alcaraz rallied, continuing to fire with his remarkable power from the baseline. The Spaniard won the final four games of the clash to advance.
“It’s not easy to talk now because I finished the match not so long ago. But it was a good match from my side, from his side. Could finish in three sets, could finish in four sets, could finish in five sets. The level was high,” Sinner said. “At some point I didn’t serve that well, but he was returning well. It was a good match. Obviously the crowd was good. For me only the second time on Ashe. So it was a good match for sure. But a very, very tough one.”
Did You Know?
Before this match, the latest finish in US Open history was 2:26 a.m., which happened three times. The longest match in event history came in the 1992 semi-finals between Stefan Edberg and Michael Chang, which lasted five hours and 26 minutes.