Carlos Alcaraz of Spain beat Jannik Sinner of Italy 6-3 6-7 6-7 7-5 6-3 in a pulsating quarterfinal of the US Open on Thursday. The 19-year-old Alcaraz will take on Frances Tiafoe of the US in the semifinal on Friday.
This is the first time the young Spanish sensation has reached the semifinal of a Grand Slam.
The match lasted more than five hours and ended at 2:50 A.M. local time, thereby smashing the previous record for the latest finish at the US Open.
Now, we take a look at three things that stood out in the match:
Carlos Alcaraz def. Jannik Sinner
#1 Alcaraz kept returning well and used his drop shots judiciously:
Right from the very beginning, Alcaraz returned very well. He landed a lot of his returns deep into the open court to put Sinner in an uncomfortable position. Alcaraz’s returns often bailed him out of trouble. Even during the 10th game of the fourth set, when Sinner had a match point, Alcaraz played a superb return that forced Sinner to hit his subsequent shot wide.
Alcaraz also used the drop shots to good effect throughout the match. He often dragged the Italian into the net by playing drop shots and then used his lobs and volleys to win points.
#2. Sinner hit his forehand well, but his backhand often let him down:
Sinner usually is strong off either wing, but his backhand was not often up to the mark on Wednesday. He kept going around his backhand frequently to hit inside-out and inside-in forehand. The tactic worked to an extent, but as Alcaraz started using the backhand slice more often as the match progressed, Sinner’s backhand was found wanting.
The Italian committed a few costly errors off his backhand towards the latter stages of the match, which proved to be decisive in the end. He finished the match with 29 unforced errors off his backhand alone against Alcaraz’s 12.
#3. Alcaraz’s mental strength and fitness turned things in his favor:
Alcaraz was on the brink of defeat in the fourth set, but his mental fortitude saw him through. He won the last four games of the fourth set to take the match to the fifth set.
Alcaraz’s supreme fitness was evident from the way he moved in the last two sets. Sinner tried to move him from side to side, but the Spaniard covered the court and defended superbly.
Moreover, his never-say-die attitude also pulled him out of troubled waters during the latter stages of the match. The Spaniard now looks the favorite to clinch his maiden Grand Slam title.
Main Photo from Getty.