The US Open is still all to play for at the semi finals stage, even if many have already crowned their winner from the four left. Carlos Alcaraz is the comfortable bookmakers favourite but any of the remaining could well win their first slam, including his opponent Frances Tiafoe. With a win, Alcaraz will either be No.1 or be in a match for it in the final if Casper Ruud also wins.
With the Big 4 winding down, there has been plenty of opportunity for the best of the rest to make a name and make their case for who will be at the top. Tiafoe is one of those players who was always highly rated and had a flashy game but often failed to deceive in big matches. He has turned it round this fortnight with a nerveless victory over Rafael Nadal followed by a calm and measured straight sets win over Andrey Rublev. It all began from the serve, where the American did not give up a single break during the 7-6 7-6 6-4 win. “I had the biggest win of my life 24 hours ago and coming out and getting another big win… Andrey’s a hell of a player, and to back it up, that’s huge. It’s tough to turn the page, but I did and now I’m in the semis.” he said. “I feel so at home on courts like this. This court is unbelievable. [The crowd] gets so far behind me, I want to play, I want to give my best. I always find a way somehow on this court, I always play some great tennis and I have been. Let’s enjoy this, we’ve got two more.”
A quarter finalist last year, Alcaraz has already gone one better with this run to make it 4/4 on beating his slam performances from last year. This one was not always a certainty with him and Jannik Sinner playing an instant classic that ended at 2:50am local time after 5 hours and 15 minutes. He had to come from a break down in the decider of the 6-3 6-7 6-7 7-5 6-3 win, rolling off the last four games in a row to move into the final four. “Probably at the end of the match, I was [at] my end. It was really, really tough for me,” Alcaraz said. “[But], during the whole match, five hours, 15 minutes of the match, I felt great physically. The level of tennis that we played, it was really, really high. But I felt great.
If there is an opportunity for Tiafoe, it will definitely lie in the fact his opponent was at the mercy of poor scheduling and may not have sufficient recovery time following such a match. The American can become the first American man to make a slam final since Andy Roddick and once there – he would fancy his chances against either player. However, Alcaraz looks like he has it all and should eventually take advantage against an opponent that prior to this week has often wilted in big moments. The home crowd will try to get Tiafoe off the line but Alcaraz has already proven his mental toughness in big moments over the past two years.
Prediction – Carlos Alcaraz in five sets