Beau will be here shortly. In the meantime, here’s Tumaini Carayol on what is likely to be an absorbing contest:
Over the course of an intense, chaotic and wildly entertaining US Open semi-final between Carlos Alcaraz and Frances Tiafoe, as their combined creativity, athleticism and joy merged to create entertainment in its purest form, Alcaraz absorbed so many blows. He conceded a difficult first set tiebreak with a double fault, then after establishing his dominance, he couldn’t hold on. Alcaraz continually lost his serve, failed to take a match point and found himself in a fifth set.
There were so many moments when the momentum could have dangerously shifted, but no matter how the match twisted, he maintained his intensity until the end. Across the three consecutive five-set battles that have led him to the final, this resilience has been his defining characteristic. It will make him so hard to put away as he faces Casper Ruud for the men’s US Open title on Sunday.
Together, they have engineered a fascinating scenario that marks a stark contrast to the years of dominance by the big three. Not only will Ruud and Alcaraz compete for their first grand slam title in the final, but the world No 1 ranking is also on the line. It is rare enough for players to reach the world summit for the first time after winning a slam. The most recent occurrence in the men’s game coming when Novak Djokovic won Wimbledon in 2011, his third major.
The obstacles for Ruud are clearly numerous. Despite reaching his second grand slam final of the season, Ruud has never beaten a top-10 opponent at a grand slam tournament – what a time it would be to finally do so. They faced each other in a big final earlier this year at the Miami Open, a first Masters 1000 final for both, and although Alcaraz still had not yet broken the top 15, he won in two tight sets.
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