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Carlos Alcaraz appeared to lose the ability to serve before storming back to beat Jannik Sinner in a sensational US Open quarter final in New York. The Spaniard faced a match point in the fourth set, but saved it before later coming through 3-6 7-6(7) 7-6(0) 5-7 6-3 in a match that lasted five hours and 15 minutes.
The dramatic clash finished shortly before 3am at the Arthur Ashe Stadium, a factor which would have pleased Frances Tiafoe. The American, who had earlier seen off Andrey Rublev in straight sets, will now face Alcaraz in the last four on Friday.
The 19-year-old has never previously reached a Grand Slam semi final, and afterwards he collapsed to the court in elation. He eventually peeled himself off the floor to embrace Sinner, who walked around the net to congratulate his opponent.
But during the fourth set, Alcaraz appeared to be running out of ideas as he struggled on his serve, looking up at coach Juan Carlos Ferrero and saying: “Tell me. Where do I serve? I don’t know how to serve.”
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Ferrero, 42, didn’t seem to have the answer, simply holding his arms out and shrugging his shoulders. But the nonchalant response somehow did the trick, with Alcarez then holding in back-to-back service games to love.
And ironically, when he did finally seal his epic win, the third seed did so with an ace. It was the second consecutive match at Flushing Meadows where Alcarez has not finished before 2am, having not been able to go to bed until 6am after beating Marin Cilic in the last eight.
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And after his win, he spelt out the dangers of taking on Tiafoe, who has already knocked out Rafael Nadal: “Everyone knows the level of Tiafoe – he beat Rafa, he beat Rublev in three sets,” he said.
“He plays great. He has a lot of confidence right now. This court is special for him right now so it’s going to be a very tough match so I’m going to enjoy this moment and my first semi-final of a Grand Slam. Tomorrow, I will have time to think about the match but right now it’s about taking a rest and enjoying this moment.”
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