Relentless Alcaraz ends Tiafoe’s dream run to reach US Open final

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NEW YORK, Sept 9 (Reuters) – Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz ended Frances Tiafoe’s dream run at the US Open with a 6-7(6) 6-3 6-1 6-7 victory (5) 6-3 to reach his first major final, where he will face Casper Ruud with the world number one on the line.

Despite playing into the early hours of the morning in his previous two five-set matches, the 19-year-old showed no signs of fatigue on Friday, racing around the pitch to win the uphill battle.

“We are in the semi-finals of a Grand Slam and we have to give everything we have inside, we have to fight until the last ball,” Alcaraz said in an on-court interview.

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“It doesn’t matter if we fight for five hours, six hours. You have to give it your all on the court. Frances gave it your all on the court. It’s unbelievable.”

If he can beat Ruud, Alcaraz would become the youngest man to be crowned world number one, beating the mark set by Australian Lleyton Hewitt, who was 20 when he became the world’s best player in 2001.

The victory ends Big Foe’s run at the tournament, where his unlikely success and uniquely American life story captivated fans and brought luminaries including former first lady Michelle Obama to Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday night .

No American has lifted a Grand Slam trophy since Andy Roddick won the US Open in 2003, and Tiafoe was the first black American to reach the semifinals at Flushing Meadows since the late Hall of Famer Ashe in 1972. read more

“This one really, really hurts,” Tiafoe said in an on-court interview.

“Too good from Carlos. You’re going to win a lot of Grand Slams, you’re a hell of a player, a hell of a person. I’m happy to have been able to share the pitch on such a big stage with you.

“I’m going to come back and win this thing someday. I’m sorry guys.”

Tiafoe, whose parents fled the civil war in Sierra Leone and who was exposed to the sport when his father worked as a goalie at a tennis center in Maryland, had the sold-out crowd in his corner, especially after saving a ball match in the fourth series.

But there was still plenty of love for Alcaraz, who electrified the tennis world with his acrobatic shot and youthful vigor.

Alcaraz got off to a slow start, double faulting twice in the opening set tiebreaker, including one on set point to give Tiafoe a 1-0 lead.

He raised his level to win the second set, raced through the one-sided third and took Tiafoe to the brink in the fourth before the American produced an incredible fightback, earning his eighth tiebreaker of the tournament for set up a decision maker.

But there would be no escape for Alcaraz, who broke to open the fifth set and never looked back, sealing victory when Tiafoe’s shot hit the net on match point.

It was Alcaraz’s 50th victory, the most of any player on the ATP Tour this year.

Third-seeded Alcaraz will be looking to claim what could be the first of many Grand Slam trophies when he takes on French Open runner-up Ruud, who earned a confident four-set victory over Karen Khachanov earlier on Friday.

Alcaraz defeated Ruud in straight sets in the Miami Open final in April.

“It’s amazing to be able to fight for big things. First time in a Grand Slam final. I can see world number one and at the same time it’s so far,” Alcaraz said.

“I have one more to face against a player who plays amazingly. He deserves to play in the final. He played in a Grand Slam final at Roland Garros and this is my first time.

“I will give everything I have.”

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Reporting by Rory Carroll in New York; Editing by William Mallard and Raju Gopalakrishnan

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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