Certainly unexpected but the defeat of the third seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas by the 18-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, isn’t surprising seeing as the teenager is Rafa Nadal’s protégé and is believed by the Spanish icon, to be a future star – possibly following in his own shoes.
I just don't know what happened out there in the court. I can't believe I beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in an epic match. "For me, it's a dream come true Carlos Alcaraz
By eliminating the third seed from the US Open listings 6-3 4-6 7-6(2) 0-6 7-6(5) he not only recorded the best result of his burgeoning career, but announced himself onto the world stage.
“I have not words to explain how I’m feeling right now,” Alcaraz said. “I just don’t know what happened out there in the court. I can’t believe I beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in an epic match.
“For me, it’s a dream come true.”
Alcaraz becomes the youngest man to beat a top-3 player at the US Open since the rankings began in 1973 and the youngest man in the last-16 of the US Open since 17-year-old American Michael Chang in 1989, and at any Slam, since Ukraine’s Andrei Medvedev at the 1992 French Open.
“In the beginning of the fifth set, I had to play really aggressive, the best tennis I’ve played. Was really tough for me,” Alcaraz added.
“I didn’t give up. I believed in me in the last point. He was serving really well. I had to be aggressive until the last point. I did it. Was really good.”
And after being bageled in the fourth set, he out-battled Tsitsipas in a tension-packed final set.
“One hundred percent he can be a contender for Grand Slam titles,” an impressed Tsitsipas said. “He has the game to be there.
“In the beginning of the first set, (he) came really strong. Ball speed was incredible. I’ve never seen someone hit the ball so hard. Took time to adjust.
“I’ve never seen someone play such a good fifth set. I didn’t expect him to raise his level so much, especially after having lost the fourth set this way. He was a completely different player.
“He dealt with (pressure) really well. That’s something that’s going to reach the top.”
After firing a forehand winner on his third match-point chance in the deciding tie-breaker, Alcaraz collapsed onto the court in joy, thinking of his earliest supporters in his Spanish hometown.
“When I fall into the court at the end of the match, I thought ofmy family and my friends, other people who was supporting me in Murcia; all my team also supporting me from the (Nadal) academy,” Alcaraz said.
“I thought (of) every person that was supporting me from Murcia from the beginning of this history when I was a kid and everything. Was amazing.”
Alcaraz acknowledged that the crowd on Arthur Ashe Stadium had played a major part in his victory.
“It surprised me, really. The crowd was behind me all the time, supporting me, pushing me up in every moment,” he said.
“The crowd was important for me. I think without the crowd I couldn’t have the opportunity to play a great fifth set and beat Stefanos. The crowd was really amazing. I really loved it.”
Tsitsipas, who is now perhaps better known for taking lengthy comfort breaks which his opponents are calling gamesmanship (but within current rules), did leave the court to boos after dropping the third set, but on this occasion his time was within acceptable limits.
He was also booed when he was called for a coaching violation and a time violation.
Andrei Rublev, the fifth seed from Russia, also suffered an unexpected defeat beaten after three and 45-minutes, by Frances Tiafoe in a very late night match which nearly set a new latest finish record at Flushing when it concluded at 2.14 am Saturday morning. The record stands at 2.26 which were recorded in 1993, 2012 and 2014.
Tiafoe won 4-6 6-3 7-6(6) 4-6 6-1 to make the fourth round for the second consecutive year to the delight of a very small crowd who stayed to support him.
His reaction at the end was to strip off his shirt and then sit on a bench shaking his head in amazement at his achievement. He is the first American male to reach the second week at the U.S. Open in consecutive years since Andy Roddick and Mardy Fish in 2011-12.
“I love these matches. This is why you work. This is why you put the time in, to play the best guys in the world. These are the matches I get up for,” Tiafoe said in his on-court interview.
“I want these guys. I want to put it on my resumé. I came out today and I was like, ‘I’m going to beat him.’ I grew up with this guy, I don’t fear any of these guys. Let’s keep going.”
The world number 50 also took time to praise the US Open faithful who supported throughout the night.
With two high seeds now out of the running, Daniil Medvedev becomes the clear favourite to return to the final.
“Great match. Always great to finish in straight sets,” Medvedev said following his third straight sets victory. “The more matches you can win in straight sets the better.
“First set, yeah, I think Pablo didn’t play his best level. I just took advantage, took the points I needed to take. Second and third set was much tighter, a lot of long rallies. He had breakpoints to come back at 5-All. I’m really happy that I managed to win the match without being at 5-All because that’s the tough score already. Less than two hours. Only positives. Again, happy with my level, happy with everything.”
Qualifiers Botic Van de Zandschulp of Holland and Germany’s Peter Gojowzyck also advanced as did Canadian Felix Auger Aliassime who hung on in five sets to beat Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut and Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman.