Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner served up a stone-cold thriller at the US Open that had the crowd on Arthur Ashe in raptures and left much of the tennis world in awe.
Alcaraz saved a match point and recovered from a break down in the fourth and fifth sets as he won at 2.50am local time, the latest-ever US Open finish.
The third seed will next face 22nd seed Frances Tiafoe for a place in the final.
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The incredible efforts of Alcaraz and Sinner did not go unnoticed by their fellow professionals, many of whom seemed to be watching on in disbelief.
“This match is insane,” wrote US Open quarter-finalist Coco Gauff on Twitter.
“I leave at 6am for the airport but I refuse to sleep and miss this.”
Gauff, who lost to Caroline Garcia on Wednesday, also added on Instagram: “I’m gonna freakin’ cry for whoever loses this match. They both want it so bad.”
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Former world No. 12 Feliciano Lopez said the amazing hitting from both players was like “watching a table tennis match”.
“Can’t get any better…I just found myself screaming in my room, is it normal?”
This was the fourth meeting between Alcaraz, 19, and Sinner, 21, and there were plenty thinking this could develop into one of the best rivalries in tennis.
“This is video game tennis. Can’t wait to watch these two battle for years,” wrote former world No. 4 James Blake on Twitter.
Eurosport’s Alex Corretja was watching the match on Arthur Ashe and said at 4.45 local time that it was “impossible to sleep” afterwards.
“Surely the most fiendish game I've commentated on in my life! THANK YOU Alcaraz and Sinner for this level of surreal tennis!”
Former British No. 1 Laura Robson added: “They’re hitting it so big I feel like I’m watching tennis in fast forward.
“Sign me up for the next 10 years of Sinner vs Alcaraz matches. This has been a delight.”
Former world No. 3 Pam Shriver asked if this had been the “best match of the year”.
'Drama was absurd' - but was finish too late?
This was a second consecutive late finish for Alcaraz, who only got off court at 2:23am after his previous win over Marin Cilic.
Considering players also have media commitments, treatment and more after matches, there were questions over the scheduling and whether it is detrimental to the players.
American professional Noah Rubin wrote on Twitter: “Still torn. Obviously the drama was absurd, the tennis was disgusting, but anything less than this and it isn’t worth it.
“Two consecutive 6/7 am bed times for Carlos is not fair. His job isn’t over and recovery is impossible.”
Alcaraz, though, did not suggest he is feeling the effects of the late finish.
“During the whole match, five hours, 15 minutes, I feel great physically. Of course, the level of tennis that we have played, it was really, really high.
“I feel great to be in my first semi-final in a Grand Slam. I feel better reaching semi-final here in US Open. This tournament is amazing. The crowd is amazing, I would say the best in the world.
“I mean, the energy I receive in this court at 3am, it was unbelievable. Probably in other tournaments, other places, everybody went to their house to rest. But they stay on the court, supporting me. It was unbelievable.”
Sinner said the defeat was probably the toughest of his career so far.
“I had some tough losses, for sure. This is in the top list. I think so...this one will hurt for quite a while.
“But tomorrow I wake up, or today I wake up, trying to somehow taking only the positives, trying to take away the other part. But it's tough, for sure.
“Maybe next time I can win this, no? This kind of level was very high for sure. It was a good match. I hope also for the spectators. Last time I won and this time he won, that's it.”
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