Despite playing into the early morning hours in his previous two five-set matches, the 19-year-old showed no signs of fatigue on Friday, racing around the court to win the hard-fought battle.
“We are in a semi-final at a Grand Slam and we have to give everything we have inside, we have to fight until the last ball,” Alcaraz said in an on-court interview.
We love you, @FTiafoe 💙 https://t.co/mH966361tk
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) 1662782422000
“It doesn’t matter if we are fighting for five hours, six hours. You have to give everything on court. Frances gave everything on court. This is amazing.”
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) 1662782181000
If he can beat Ruud, Alcaraz would become the youngest man to be crowned world number one, breaking the mark set by Australian Lleyton Hewitt, who was 20 when he became the world’s top ranked player in 2001.
The gloves will be off in the #USOpen final. 🥊 https://t.co/4M7xObfn0W
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) 1662782509000
The win ends Big Foe’s run at the tournament, where his unlikely success and uniquely American life story captivated fans and brought out luminaries including former first lady Michelle Obama to Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday night.
What’s at stake in the #USOpen final?A first Grand Slam title and the No. 1 ranking in the world. Otherwise, not… https://t.co/VoPJbpLK62
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) 1662782331000
No American man has hoisted a Grand Slam trophy since Andy Roddick won the U.S. Open in 2003, and Tiafoe was the first Black American man to reach the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows since the late Hall of Famer Ashe did so in 1972.
.@carlosalcaraz gave everything he has https://t.co/vI42l9txpR
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) 1662782528000
“This one really, really hurts,” Tiafoe said in an on-court interview.
“Too good from Carlos. You’re going to win a lot of Grand Slams, you’re a hell of a player, a hell of a person. I’m happy I got to share the court on such a big stage with you.
The first of many for 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz. https://t.co/2mX3aIPiBz
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) 1662782111000
“I am going to come back and I will win this thing one day. I’m sorry guys.”
No. 1 is in @carlosalcaraz’s sights… https://t.co/35acVbSDud
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) 1662782706000
Tiafoe, whose parents fled civil war in Sierra Leone and who was exposed to the sport when his father worked as a caretaker at a tennis center in Maryland, had the sold-out crowd in his corner, especially after he saved a match point in the fourth set.
C 🔥 A 🔥 R 🔥 L 🔥 I 🔥 T 🔥 O 🔥 SCarlos Alcaraz rallies to reach the #USOpen final in five sets! https://t.co/3mswWvmoUx
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) 1662782101000
But there was still plenty of love for Alcaraz, who has electrified the tennis world with his acrobatic shotmaking and youthful vigor.
In his native tongue 🇪🇸Your English is great, @carlosalcaraz, but let’s hear from you in Spanish. https://t.co/jt8S33pcBw
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) 1662782782000
Alcaraz got off to a sluggish start, double faulting twice in the first set tie-breaker including one on set point to hand Tiafoe a 1-0 lead.
He raised his level to win the second set, breezed through the one-sided third and took Tiafoe to the brink in the fourth before the American produced an incredible fight back, winning his eighth tiebreaker of the tournament to set up a decider.
Falling down on the stairs!It was worth it for that @carlosalcaraz signed ball 🎾 https://t.co/PASyuB0AlA
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) 1662782811000
But there would be no escape from Alcaraz, who broke to open the fifth set and never looked back, sealing the win when Tiafoe’s shot hit the net on match point.
It was the 50th match win for Alcaraz, the most of any player on the ATP Tour this year.
Alcaraz, seeded third, will look to claim what could be the first of many Grand Slam trophies when he faces French Open finalist Ruud, who produced a confident four-set win over Karen Khachanov earlier on Friday.
Big belief from Big Foe. https://t.co/fbMKQdxDSg
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) 1662783306000
Alcaraz beat Ruud in straight sets in the Miami Open final in April.
“It’s amazing to be able to fight for big things. First time in a final of a Grand Slam. I can see the number one in the world and at the same time it is so far away,” Alcaraz said.
“I have one more to go against a player who plays unbelievable. He deserves to play in the final. He played the final of a Grand Slam in Roland Garros and this is my first time.
“I’m going to give everything I have.”