Carlos Alcaraz has produced the finest win of his flourishing career, beating world number three Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(2), 0-6, 7-6(5) to reach the fourth round of the US Open for the first time in his career.
The 18-year-old Spaniard, tipped as being the next Rafael Nadal having already won an ATP title at the Croatia Open in July, has enjoyed a breakout year by reaching at least the second round of every Grand Slam this year.
But beating Tsitsipas in four hours and 11 minutes is undoubtedly the best result of his career in what was the best match of the US Open so far.
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Alcaraz will fancy his chances in the fourth round having been drawn against German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk.
Tsitsipas came into the match facing heavy criticism this week and has been booed in his first two rounds for extended toilet breaks. The crowd were clearly on the side of the up-and-coming Spaniard whose aggressive, varied brand of tennis quickly won him supporters on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Alcaraz set the tone in the first set, breaking Tsitsipas on his first two service games before wrapping it up in 34 minutes.
After looking dazed by the opener, Tsitsipas got back into his traditional rhythm for the second set and was able to break Alcaraz’s serve in games five and seven. Alcaraz had three break points when he was 5-4 down, but Tsitsipas would clinch the leveller on his second set point.
Momentum appeared to be with the Greek player bidding to win his first ever Grand Slam. Tsitsipas surged into a 5-2 lead, but Alcaraz showed what he was made of and responded by recovering from two breaks down to force a tie-break which he convincingly won 7-2.
The boos rang around Arthur Ashe Stadium and the stopwatches were on as Tsitsipas went off for one of his infamous toilet breaks. Unlike his breaks in the previous rounds lasting up to eight minutes each, he was back on court in under four.
But it perhaps created another momentum shift in the match as Alcaraz appeared to tire, while Tsitsipas was able to bagel his opponent in 27 minutes to set up a fifth set decider.
The atmosphere inside Arthur Ashe Stadium reached a crescendo for the fifth set as both players brought their A-game with both players playing with flair and grit.
Alcaraz looked to have the slight edge at 4-4 and was playing with more energy, but Tsitsipas held his serve to move within one game of the match.
Neither would concede and a deciding tie-break would ensue as the clock hit the four-hour mark.
Tsitsipas’ serving had been superior to Alcaraz’s throughout the match but the Spaniard’s groundstrokes were electrifying.
It was what helped Alcaraz secure a mini break to go 3-1 up and a Tsitispas unforced error at the net moved him to within three points of the match.
Alcaraz earnt himself three match points and he thought he finished it off at the second attempt with a lob over Tsitsipas at the net, but it landed agonisingly beyond the baseline.
But he did it on the third go, smashing a punishing forehand to seal a seismic victory.
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Source: Euro Sports