American Francis Tiafoe’s dream US Open run came to an end at the hands of Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz in a gruelling contest on Saturday.
Alcaraz advances to his first Grand Slam final after winning his third straight five-set classic in a 6-7 6-3 6-1 6-7 6-3 win on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
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Tiafoe threw everything, including the kitchen sink, at Alcaraz in what was a feast for the eyes for those watching on.
But in the end his efforts weren’t enough to overcome one of the best players on tour all season long who will take on Norwegian Casper Ruud in the final with the winner receiving the extra bonus of being crowned number one on the standings.
It was in his efforts over the course of more than four hours that won fans over, but it was his post-defeat speech that stole their hearts as the American became overwhelmed with emotion and broke down in tears.
“I gave everything I had, too good from Carlos tonight,” Tiafoe said.
“Honestly I came here wanting to win the US Open, I feel like I let you guys down. This one really hurts.”
Tiafoe was left gobsmacked by the display Alcaraz put forth and said the youngster is going to cause problems for years to come.
“He’s so young. He hits the ball so hard. I never played a guy who moves as well as him, honestly,” he said. “I was hitting some drop volleys that I’ve been hitting. He’s getting there. How he’s able to extend points, incredible.
“He’s going to be a problem for a very long time.”
Earlier, Ruud defeated Russia’s Karen Khachanov 7-6 6-2 5-7 6-2.
Ruud will be appearing in his second Grand Slam final of the season after finishing runner-up to Nadal at the French Open in June.
“After Roland Garros, I was extremely happy but at the same time humble enough to think that could be my only final in a Grand Slam in my career,” Ruud said.
“They don’t come easy. So here I am a couple of months later – it feels beyond words to describe.”
The 23-year-old Norwegian set the tone for his dominance early in the semi-final when he came out on top in a 55-shot rally to convert a third set point in the opening tie-break which his Russian rival described as “crazy”.
If he wins the US Open final, he will become the first Norwegian ever to be world No. 1.
– with AFP