Carlos Alcaraz showed true character and strength in the fourth round to beat former US Open Champion Marin Cilic in a late-night spectacle inside Flushing Meadows.
The five-set match, which lasted three hours and 53 minutes, didn’t finish until 2:23am, making it the fourth latest finish in tournament history.
After the match, Alcaraz praised the New York crowd for helping to get him over the line eventually winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
“Honestly, I have no idea,” Alcaraz said of how he won the match. “It was pretty, pretty tough at the beginning of the fifth set [being a] break down.
“But Marin was playing unbelievable. I believe in myself all the time. Of course the support today in Arthur Ashe was crazy. Without you guys, it wouldn’t be possible to win this match tonight, so thank you very much for the support tonight, thank you.
“I would say 100 per cent of the energy I put in the fifth set was thanks to you. It was unbelievable.”
Alcaraz has now become the youngest man to reach consecutive US Open quarterfinals since 1952, and he has even more at stake in this year’s competition.
With defending champion Daniil Medvedev and 22-time Grand Slam Champion Rafael Nadal already out, and world number three Zverev injured, the young Spaniard has a chance of making even more history.
If Alcaraz reaches the US Open final and Casper Ruud does not, he will become the world number one for the first time in his career.
Alternatively, if Ruud makes the final and Alcaraz doesn’t, then Ruud will reach the top spot. If both players reach the final, the winner will win with the US Open Trophy and be crowned world number one.
Is it an exciting time for tennis with a fresh-looking quarterfinal draw including Francis Tiafoe, Nick Kyrgios and Jannik Sinner. It is the latter of these that Alcaraz will face in the quarters, with the duo starting to build what has the makings of an iconic rivalry.
The two have played each other three times in just over a year, with Sinner winning the last two clashes, and Alcaraz knows it will be a big challenge.
“I played a couple of times against him," he said. "He’s a great player, a really, really tough one.
“I lost twice in the past two months, so I will have to be ready for this battle against Jannik.”
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