Late US Open win lets Carlos Alcaraz’s world number one dreams come true | ATP tour

Carlos Alcaraz continued his march to become Pepperstone’s youngest ATP ranked world No. 1 in the early hours of Tuesday morning when he defeated 2014 champion Marin Cilic in the fourth round of the US Open.

Alcaraz outlasted the former world No. 3 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows for the second straight year. The match ended at 2:23 a.m., marking the fourth last result in tournament history.

“Honestly, I have no idea,” Alcaraz said of how he won the game. “It was quite, quite difficult at the start of the fifth set [being a] breakdown. But Marin was playing amazing. I believe in myself all the time. Of course support today for Arthur Ashe [Stadium] was crazy. Without you guys, it wouldn’t be possible to win this game tonight, so thank you so much for the support tonight, thank you.

“I would say 100% of the energy I put into the fifth set was thanks to you. It was amazing.


For a while, Alcaraz’s hopes and dreams of the tournament of reaching No. 1 on September 12 faded. Cilic caught fire from the baseline and came back into the game to force a decider and lead by a break early in the fifth set. But Alcaraz showed their competitive spirit and immediately fought back before racing towards the finish after three hours and 53 minutes.

“After a fourth set [when] I had a lot of opportunities…it was hard for me to come back in the fifth set, to stay mentally strong,” Alcaraz said. “But like I said, the energy I received today made me win.”

With Daniil Medvedev and Rafael Nadal losing over the past two days, the stakes have been raised for Alcaraz in New York. Not only is the teenager chasing his first Grand Slam title, but he is also trying to rise to the top of men’s tennis.

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If the Spaniard reaches the final and Casper Ruud does not, Alcaraz will rise to the rank of world No. 1 on the Monday following the US Open. If Ruud reaches the final and Alcaraz does not, the Norwegian will reach first place. If both men take part in the championship match, the winner will walk away with the trophy and the world No. Alcaraz is up to No. 2 on the Pepperstone ATP Live rankings.

Alcaraz was focused on the player ahead of him in the fourth round, Cilic, and he had to be. The Spaniard held off a surging barrage of groundstrokes from the Croatian in the early hours of the morning and found some of his best tennis when it mattered most. Alcaraz took a knee in celebration and both players shared special moments with the remaining crowd inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, thanking the fans as they left the pitch.

At the start of the fourth set, the dynamic of the match changed when Alcaraz started to return Cilic’s serve close to the back wall, allowing the 33-year-old to take the first big strike in the rally. Alcaraz struggled to avoid playing defense against his aggressive opponent.

When the 19-year-old missed a forehand to break in the fifth set, Cilic looked in control. The Croatian has plenty of experience in tough times and was the only Grand Slam champion left in the draw.

But Alcaraz’s determination never wavered. The third seed kept fighting and it paid off when he found an incredible angle to get the serve back. He never looked back from there, finding a way through the clash in which he hit 28 winners and converted six of his 18 break points.

Next up for the Spaniard will be 11th seed Jannik Sinner, another former Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion. The Italian also needed five sets to win his fourth round match.

“I’ve played against him many times. He’s a great player, a really, really tough player,” said Alcaraz, who is trailing his 1-2 ATP Head2Head streak. months, so I will have to be ready for this battle against Jannik.”

Did you know?
Alcaraz, 19, is the youngest man to make the last eight at the US Open in consecutive years since Lew Hoad and Ken Rosewall in 1952-53, when the event was called the US Championships.

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