Carlos Alcaraz showed incredible resolve to beat Jannik Sinner in a thrillingly high-level contest to reach the US Open semi-finals.
Both players produced an outrageous level in an absorbing five-hour match that finished at 2.50am local time, the latest-ever finish at the US Open, beating the previous record of 2.26am.
Third seed Alcaraz recovered from a break down in the fourth set and fifth sets, and fended off a match point, before winning 6-3 6-7(7) 6-7(0) 7-5 6-3.
Exclusive: 'We need him' - Ferrero says Djokovic presence crucial for Alcaraz development
"I still don't know how I did it. The level I played, high quality of tennis. It's unbelievable," said Alcaraz, who is the youngest man to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since Rafael Nadal at the French Open in 2005.
"I always say you have to believe in yourself all the time. Hope is the last thing you use. I believed in myself, my game."
Alcaraz, who has a chance to become world No. 1 if he makes the final, will next face 22nd seed Frances Tiafoe for a place in the final after he beat ninth seed Andrey Rublev in straight sets.
The other semi-final is between fifth seed Casper Ruud and 27th seed Karen Khachanov.
Tiafoe had said after his quarter-final earlier in the day that he hoped Sinner and Alcaraz play a “marathon match” – and he got his wish as the pair served up a classic.
Sinner had won the previous two meetings on tour this year but quickly found himself behind as he was broken in the opening game of the match.
Although the Italian levelled at 2-2, two more breaks earned Alcaraz the set.
Both players upped the ante in the second set.
Sinner won a superb rally in the sixth game and then held to love for a 5-3 lead.
But Alcaraz broke back, helped by some superb defensive work and a stinging backhand winner down the line.
The third seed looked poised to win the second set as he got to 0-40 to bring up three set points, but Sinner somehow held after Alcaraz produced a wonderful behind-the-back shot to win a point.
Sinner fended off another set point in the tie-break and eventually snatched it to level the match.
If Alcaraz was frustrated to lose a set where he hit 16 winners and just five unforced errors he didn’t show it, and the level remained sky high.
The pair twice traded breaks as they slugged it out before going to a tie-break, which Sinner this time raced through without dropping a point.
Sinner looked on top as he broke to open the fourth set.
But from 5-3 up the Italian couldn’t close out the win, missing a match point with a backhand that went wide and then dragging a drive volley out of court to be broken.
Alcaraz followed up with a second consecutive love hold and then broke again to take the second set to the delight of a delirious crowd at 2am local time.
Even though the momentum appeared to be with Alcaraz, it swung in the decider as Sinner broke to lead 3-2.
But again the Italian couldn’t maintain his advantage and Alcaraz hit straight back, high-fiving spectators in the front row after Sinner netted.
Another error from Sinner gave Alcaraz the break for 5-3 and the Spaniard served it out to seal a famous victory.
- - -
Stream the 2022 Laver Cup exclusively live on discovery+ and eurosport.co.uk
Who could be the next first-time No. 1 in 2023?
Five burning questions with 50 days to go until 2023 Australian Open
Share this article