Carlos Alcaraz takes over Rafa Nadal mantle with epic 2am US Open win

4 mins read

Teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz battled until the early hours of Tuesday morning to come through a five-set classic against Marin Cilic at Flushing Meadows. After Rafael Nadal’s premature exit at the hands of Frances Tiafoe, Alcaraz is the only Spaniard left and could usurp Nadal in more ways than one with the top of the world rankings now in his sights. 

After Nadal was convincingly beaten by Tiafoe on Monday night, the pressure amped up on Alcaraz with the hopes of a nation behind him. His clash with Cilic, who won the US Open title back in 2014, pushing him all the way and came within a whisker of becoming the latest ever finish at Flushing Meadows. 

Alcaraz converted match point at 2:23am local time, meaning just four more minutes would have overtaken Kei Nishikori’s win over Milos Raonic eight years ago. Having shown tremendous speed, skill and determination to prevail over Cilic, Alcaraz praised the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium and took a brief look towards a quarter-final clash with Jannik Sinner. 

“Honestly, I don’t know how I did it,” he told Amazon Prime Video. “I believed in myself all the time. It was very tough at the start of the fifth, Marin played unbelievable but I believe in myself. The support today was crazy, without you guys it wouldn’t be possible to win this match tonight. 

“I would say the crowd gave me 100 per cent of my energy in the fifth set. It was unbelievable. In the fourth set I had a lot of opportunities which I missed. It was tough for me to stay strong mentally in the fifth but the energy I received today made me win. 

“I played a couple of times against [Sinner], he’s a great player and very tough. I lost twice in two months so I will have to be ready for this battle. He’s an unbelievable player so it’s going to be very tough for me.”

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