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Spanish phenom Carlos Alcaraz has advanced to his first career Grand Slam final at the US Open, defeating American Frances Tiafoe in yet another epic match at Arthur Ashe Stadium by a final score of 6-7, 6-3, 6-1, 6-7, 6-3.
Tiafoe gave Alcaraz a run for his money in this tennis match, forcing a fifth set. But in that fifth, Alcaraz showcased the version of himself that we saw in the second and third sets, where he simply dominated his opponent.
Keeping the unforced errors at a minimum, Alcaraz was spectacular in the final game of the match, leaving Tiafoe baffled with his fine play. Tiafoe also had trouble with his first serves and had many more unforced errors compared to Alcaraz in the set.
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Tiafoe hit a return into the net on match point, and Alcaraz dropped to the court in awe of what he has accomplished.
At 19 years old, Alcaraz has a chance to become the No. 1-ranked player in the world if he wins the final. He made it there winning three straight matches that went to five sets, including his quarterfinal match against Italy’s Jannik Sinner that recorded the longest-ever match in US Open history at over five hours.
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“It’s amazing to be able to fight for big things,” he said after the match. “First time in a final of a Grand Slam. I can see [being named] the number one [player] in the world, but at the same time, it’s so far away.
Alcaraz took the first two games of the fifth set, breaking Tiafoe in the first one to give himself an advantage early. But Tiafoe got it back in the fifth game of the set, making it 2-2.
Alcaraz didn't allow any momentum to carry over, though, as he would win eight straight points from there, taking the next two games and a commanding 4-2 lead. He paced himself the rest of the way, breaking the final game for match point.
The fourth set was also electric, as Tiafoe found some life after being dominated in that 6-1 third set. The biggest moment came when Alcaraz had it at match point, and hit a beautiful drop shot to land it just over on Tiafoe’s side of the net.
But Tiafoe sprinted to the net front and dropped in his own softly placed ball right back to force deuce. He would go on to win that game and eventually forced the tiebreak.
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Tiafoe, who was the first American since 2006 to reach the semifinals and first Black American since Arthur Ashe to do so, spoke after the match. Despite accomplishing so much these past two weeks, he was heartbroken.
“I came here to win the US Open, I feel like I let everybody down,” he said.
“I gave everything I had.”
Tiafoe said he was “happy” to have shared the court with Alcaraz in this match that left spectators on the edge of their seats.
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Alcaraz goes on to face No. 5-ranked Casper Ruud from Norway on Sunday for the US Open final at Arthur Ashe. The women’s final between No. 1 Iga Swiatek and No. 5 Ons Jabeur will take place on Saturday.