Carlos Alcaraz beats Francis Tiafoe to reach the US Open final

The US Open almost every year seems to become a life-changing event.

Last year, a British teenager, a few months after graduating from high school, showed up in New York for the playoffs in late August. Three weeks later, Emma Radocano left town as a Grand Slam champion and global sensation.

This time around, Frances Tiafoe, a 24-year-old full of unrealized developments, has gone from a journey of a virtual unknown to a player who can lure former First Lady Michelle Obama and actor Jamie Foxx to watch it.

Tiafoe brought his wonderful story: he is the son of immigrants from Sierra Leone, his father is a maintenance worker in local tennis centerThe coaches discovered that his young son was hitting balls against the wall. Now Tiafoe was striving to become the first American man since Andy Roddick to reach the US Open final. He was actually the first American man to reach the semi-finals of this tournament in 16 years.

Two more victories would have transformed the sport in America, similar to Serena Williams’ first Grand Slam title at this tournament 23 years ago, and just over a week later. Williams played what was likely to be her last game At Arthur Ashe Stadium, in front of a screaming crowd of about 24,000 fans.

But Tiafoe met Carlos Alcaraz on Friday night, the 19-year-old from Spain who now looks set to be the person to change his life at the US Open. Alkaraz, who somehow found enough reserves to come back afterwards Winning the quarter-final match That lasted more than five hours and didn’t end until around 3 a.m. on Thursday proved too much for Tiafoe, as she won five sets, 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-1, 6-7 (5) ), 6-3.

“It’s amazing to be able to fight for the big things,” Alcaraz said.

It took just about everything Alcaraz had. He had played nearly 10 hours of tennis in his previous two matches, which included 10 grueling sets. Alcaraz skipped training for good on Thursday and only hit 30 minutes before Friday’s match.

Whatever psychological and physical energy he saved, he needed it all for a battle that brought him down, then even, plummet, and then recovered by an opponent desperate not to give up the stage. Then on the last set, get up again, and then again.

The crowd rode every wave, as the match sounded like New York Rangers hockey as fans shouted “Let’s go, Tiafu!” – Then moving on to a match like a football match in Madrid, where the choirs of “Olé, Olé, Olé, Olé” chimed across the stands, to go back to the Rangers match again.

When it was finally completed, just before midnight, 4 hours and 18 minutes after starting, Alcaraz became the first teenage man to reach a Grand Slam final since Rafael Nadal won his first French championship in 2005. It was the first time out of 22 Nadal earned it. Captured in his career. If the karaz fails Casper Road From Norway on Sunday, he will rise to number one in the world rankings, and who knows how many Grand Slam he will win.

Tiafoe finished with a magic header to reach the match point of the three, and needed all three, with Tiafoe finally scoring one last backhand. Tiafoe and Alcaraz hugged in midfield, and when they separated, Alcaraz pointed to Tiafoe, urging fans to let him hear them one last time.

“I gave him everything I had,” said Tiafoe, before telling Alcaraz about the privilege of sharing this stage with him. Then he vowed to come back and hit him here one day and win that thing. He pointed to the former first lady on her way out.

Tiafoe made a shaky start, missed his dangerous first serve early and slowly made his second serve at 75 mph.

Fortunately for Tiafoe, he was facing an opponent who seemed to have barely rested after a marathon quarter-final match. Alcaraz struggled to find his rhythm early on and couldn’t tap into Tiafoe’s nerves.

Slowly, both players settled down. Half an hour later, they were doing their best. Tiafoe flew away with his serve and met every bit of the karaz’s power. Alcaraz started chasing balls that most players don’t care about, but when he arrived he was rarely in a position to do much with them. Tiafoe got his first chance to win the set while leading 6-5, with Alcaraz’s serve, and then had four more chances as the set moved into the tiebreak.

On the fifth set point, Alcaraz finally cracked, and a double fault. Tiafoe started in his chair, then paused to look at the fans and indulge in the love they were giving him. When he got to his chair, he looked at himself on the big screen at the top of the stadium and nodded.

Tiafoe had just won his set of 16 out of 17 he played in the tournament. Facing an opponent running on smoke who had just played for over an hour and had nothing to see for him, he had every reason to believe that his journey still had a long way to go.

However, Alcaraz is different from anyone that Tiafo encountered during the first ten days of the tournament, until last Monday, when he became the first American to be born after 1989. Beat Nadal in a Grand Slam. Nadal has played so little since he tore an abdominal muscle at Wimbledon and hasn’t been able to recall his usual strength and stamina.

From the start, several Alcaraz balls found the outer edges of the sidelines and the back of the baseline, leaving Tiafoe wondering if an electronic line summoning machine could be right. Like a bowler with a late fastball movement, Alcaraz hit shots that looked like they were going to sail far and long but suddenly burst into the corner.

Balls that don’t go back against other players return when the karaz is on the other side of the net. Not an inch of the court seems out of reach. No point ends until the ball has bounced twice or hit the back wall. Incendiary winners hits while escaping from the grid. A curvature of his hips, a flick of his wrist, and the ball sailing around.

If Tiafoe’s story was about a kismet, then Alcaraz seemed preconceived. His grandfather owns a tennis club and has trained for a long time with world number one Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Tiafoe even stayed with Alcaraz through the first five matches of the second set, but a problem arose when he was serving in 2-3. That’s when Alcaraz showed that if he could stay healthy, he could have as good a career as anyone who had ever played this game.

He got his chance to break Tiafoe for the first time of the night, running deep into the ball into the back corner and attaching a shot close to the net. With a chance to get the point off, Tiafoe sent it for a long time, then did it again at the next point.

Tiafoe had chances to get back into the group two more times, but Alcaraz shut the door both times, the first by mixing slides and topspin during a long run, and the second with Tiafoe not coming back. By the end of the set, Tiafoe was showing his first signs of frustration, hitting his racket in the air, as if he knew what was coming.

What happened next was ugly. The first two sets lasted 109 minutes. He finished third at 33. Alcaraz went off the fire, and Tiafoe came out as a shadow of a player who was in the first set when he grabbed the lead early.

The Cars won 12 of the first 13 points, making a 3-0 lead and breaking Tiafoe three times as he took a two-to-one advantage.

By the end of the set, Tiafoe looked lost, double-faulting, foul after foul, unable to put his feet behind the ball and prepare to swing. The Kars hit him in every way, thrust him deep into the backcourt, then shove him into the net and pass him, as he dominated a match that looked like it would soon be over.

But then Tiafoe becomes someone Alcaraz has yet to encounter – his favorite hometown with over 20,000 friends willing to help him get back from the brink.

And he did, pulling a 3-3 tie and saving the match point at 4-5 by chasing a drop shot that got the former first lady up from her seat and urging him to keep going. He did as he was told, pushed the group into the tiebreak, raised his serve and finally got Alcaraz to make enough mistakes to force the decisive set. Tiafoe’s tiebreaker performance, which was 6-0 at the start of the night, is now 8-0, a US Open record.

His eyes widened, and he nodded at the thousands of new friends he had made. This trip was about to end, but not yet.

Perhaps, though, it is part of a much larger journey that Tiafoe is taking. It has already arrived so far.

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