US Open - Day 10: Alcaraz morning mania, Swiatek signals intent

It was all at stake and that showed in a captivating and historic day at the 2022 US Open with semi-final line-ups locked in.

Carlos Alcaraz / Quarts de finale US Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

It all started at 11am New York time and didn’t finish until 2:50am the next day!

Day 10 of the 2022 US Open will live long in the memory, turning out to be a day-night-morning rollercoaster. Here is what you might have missed from Flushing Meadows.

Alcaraz and Sinner serve up modern day classic

The second longest ever US Open match, five hours and 15 minutes on the clock. Match of 2022? It’s almost a certainty.

The latest finish ever in New York couldn’t contain Carlos Alcaraz’s excitement. The 19-year-old was pumping bicep-curled celebrations with fans, chucking his trainers towards his adoring supporters, it was still a carnival in Arthur Ashe Stadium at 3am. Why?

The teenage sensation had just saved match point to then inch past NextGen companion Jannik Sinner 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-7(0), 7-5, 6-3.

Carlos Alcaraz & Jannik Sinner / Quarts de finale US Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

“I still don’t know how I did it,” said the bemused No.3 seed. Neither do we Carlos.

There were simply too many points to pour over. However, deep in the second set one viral point encapsulates the contest.

Alcaraz latched onto a piercing Sinner serve with a stretched out backhand return, then improvised for his next shot, airborne for a behind the back forehand, capping it off with a skidding backhand pass. The Spaniard’s coach, former Roland-Garros champion Juan Carlos Ferrero, could only laugh. It was off the charts.

“I feel great to be in my first semi-final in a Grand Slam. This tournament is amazing. The crowd is amazing, I would say the best in the world,” claimed Alcaraz, with a shot of becoming world No.1 by next week.

“The energy I receive in this court at 3am, it was unbelievable. Probably in other tournaments, other place, everybody went to their house to rest. But they keep in the court, supporting me. It was unbelievable.”

It was a brutal loss for Sinner, the Italian more than played his part in a modern-day classic.

I had some tough losses. This is in the top list. I think this one will hurt for quite a while,” admitted the 21-year-old, having held match point on serve in the fourth set.

“Tomorrow I wake up, or today I wake up, trying to somehow taking only the positives, trying to take away the other part.”

Tiafoe keeps Cinderella story going

Alcaraz is the youngest men’s Grand Slam semi-finalist since Rafael Nadal, also 19, at the 2005 Roland-Garros – we know how that turned out! He’ll shoot for a maiden major final up against the American showman Frances Tiafoe.

“Everybody knows the level of Frances. He has beaten Rafa Nadal, Rublev in three sets. He's playing unbelievable right now. High confidence,” added Alcaraz. “He loves the crowd. He loves this court. I'm going to have to put my best.”

Tiafoe revealed he couldn’t sleep on Tuesday night, his head still spinning from “the biggest day of my life,” taking down Nadal in four compelling sets.

The world No.26 now finds himself as the first American man in the US Open semi-finals since Andy Roddick in 2006.

The crowd was in raptures, revelling in Tiafoe’s absorbing, ferocious play as the 24-year-old smothered No.9 seed Andrey Rublev 7-6(3), 7-6(0), 6-4.

“That stuff gets me emotional, for sure. Seeing people like screaming your name, just loving what you're doing. That's awesome. That's what it's all about,” claimed Tiafoe, buzzing from his support. “Everyone loves a Cinderella story. Just trying to make one.”

Tiafoe, posting his best Grand Slam showing to date, is wearing a wristband gifted by LA Lakers’ assistant coach Phil Handy, which reads “Believe. Why not me?”

It optimises everything about ‘Big Foe’ this fortnight.

I think it's going to be a great match. Either guy is going to be tough. They're both great players. I just hope they play a marathon match, super-long match, and they get really tired come Friday,” joked Tiafoe, who certainly got his wish, unsure of his opponent at the time.

“It's going to be great tennis. I think they will be Grand Slam champions when they have done their careers, for sure. Those two are unbelievable players. Great for the game.”

Swiatek back in familiar territory

Step by step Iga Swiatek has reached levels similar to her staggering 37-match winning streak earlier this season.

Having dusted off a slow start to the American hard court swing, the world No.1 has motored into the semi-finals, toppling world No.8 Jessica Pegula 6-3, 7-6(4) on Wednesday night.

The American No.1 denied Swiatek from serving out the match twice, but the top seed found the lines in the tie-break to escape in straight sets.

“I'm pretty proud of it because I feel like I'm playing better and better every match. Jessie was a tough opponent today, for sure. Second set was really tight. We both were fighting till the last point,” said Swiatek, embracing a sense of freedom.

“I feel like it just clicked. I was able today to use my intuition a little bit more. I didn't force myself to do every step right, all this technical stuff that I've been working on. It was more, yeah, like natural today.”

Just like on the hard courts at the Australian Open back in January, Swiatek has booked a third consecutive Grand Slam semi-final ticket, where she’ll duel with Aryna Sabalenka.

The No.6 seed posted 6-1, 7-6(4) onto the scoreboard over 2016 finalist Karolina Pliskova.

Roland-Garros champion Swiatek has prevailed in all three matches with Sabalenka this season, all without dropping more than three games in any of their six sets.

“In Doha for sure it was the beginning. It wasn't the beginning of the (37-match winning) streak, but it was the first match where I realised I can actually play really solid against these Top 10 players,” stated the Pole, recalling February’s 6-2, 6-3 victory. “Aryna was playing really good. It really gave me hope and motivation for the future.”