The US Open may have ended after Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal lost. The average fan has the opportunity to search for those four names when watching a Grand Slam tournament. While we don’t follow Williams’ pursuit of her 24th Slam, we do follow Serena. The men’s content is also more similar, with the most consequential storyline centered around whether Nadal has one more cushion to take a Grand Slam lead over Novak Djokovic.
Then poof, it looks like we were wrong of the plot. Sure, Frances Tiafoe is a good story, but his run will be over before it reaches the final. However, just after everyone was about to lose interest and let their announcement tell them how this Slam was going, Tiafoe annoyed No. 9 Andrey Rublev, then his next opponent, Carlos Alcatraz, waged a tireless battle with Italian Jannik Sinner early Thursday morning, and suddenly there was something new – at least I’m pretty sure that’s the feeling – to look forward to if it doesn’t. around GOAT or all-time records.
Tiafoe and Alcaraz’s five-set matchup doesn’t compare to the show Sinner and Alcaraz put out on Thursday, but considering how deeply each player has dug into their resource pockets, shooting ability and fitness deserve it. received many enthusiastic cheers from the American and the Spaniards. equally earned. Both performances earned a final stop, but Alcaraz was the last to stand, at least before he collapsed to the ground in excitement and exhaustion after another five-set win, 6-7 , 6-3, 6-1, 6-7, 6-3.
For Tiafoe, it’s a celebrity fairy tale, starring Bradley Beal and, more specifically, Michelle Obama. He set the male record for the most tiebreaks (perfect 8-0 win) at the US Open, opening and setting 4 with a score of 7-6 that sent the home audience into a frenzy. He repeatedly hit the ball out of the hole in the fourth set, gave the break, then won it back, all while struggling to win the first serve of the game.
He hit when he had to, and stayed when he had to, but the house had none of those. To keep this blackjack analogy going, the rally then is like dealing an ace, drawing eight and nine only for the dealer to hit 21 after five cards.
With Friday night’s victory, Alcatraz became the third player ever to win three-straight five-set matches at the U.S. Open. Sweden’s Stefan Edberg did it in 1992 on his way to his sixth career Grand Slam, and Andre Agassi made it to the finals on the back of three five-set wins before falling to Roger Federer in the 2005 final.
The caveat is neither of those guys was 19 years old. Alcatraz systematically wore down Tiafoe with athleticism and relentlessness, but he also feathered a few lob winners over the top when the 24-year-old came to the net. Of the two participants, the younger player was the more consistent server, hitting fewer aces (six to Tiafoe’s 15) but more first serves in play (70 percent compared with 47 percent).
Let’s not kid ourselves though, Alcaraz covered the court as only a teenager can. He’s played something like 14 hours of tennis in the past five days. On top of the stamina of a cross-country runner, the guy looks like a linebacker standing next to the competition, and smacks the ball as hard as Lawerence Taylor hit quarterbacks. His returns clocked in at more than 100 mph many, many times.
Deadspin writer Sam Fels called Alcaraz Nadal and Federer’s love child during Friday’s TMA. If that’s really what’s going on here, and Alcaraz is the programmable dinosaur killer that the Jurassic Park mad scientist created in the lab, then the ghouls are the humans. spoiled tennis fan. Already ranked 3rd in the world, he will be the youngest male player to reach No 1 if he can beat No 5 Casper Ruud on Sunday.
Ruud will have a definite advantage on rest as his past three matches (total eight hours and 56 minutes) are 38 minutes shorter than Alcaraz’s past two (nine hours and 34 minutes). Part of me thought that the 19-year-old couldn’t have left anything in the tank, that even a teenager with rubber bones and endless energy had a limit. I’ll find out for myself on Sunday though, because there’s no way I’m letting Twitter spoil this story.