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Alcaraz defeats Sinner: "Honestly I still don't know how I did it”

  • Matt Trollope

Carlos Alcaraz’ phenomenal quarterfinal triumph over Jannik Sinner is being hailed as a match for the ages, and left the Spanish teenager almost lost for words during his on-court interview. 

It was little surprise, given his 6-3 6-7(7) 6-7(0) 7-5 6-3 victory concluded at 2.50am on Thursday – the latest ever finish to a day’s play (which began midday Wednesday at Arthur Ashe Stadium) at the US Open.

Interviewer Patrick McEnroe encouraged the 19-year-old to “take your time” as Alcaraz attempted to process the match.

It was a phenomenal one, during which the two men combined for 124 winners – some of them jaw-dropping ones which captivated the crowd and many more glued to their screens.

And it was also one during which Alcaraz failed to convert five set points in the second set, served for the third, trailed 5-3 in the fourth, and by a break in the fifth, as well as saving a match point in the fourth.

"Honestly I still don't know how I did it,” he said, as the passionate fans who remained until the very end roared in response. 

“The level that I played, the level of the match, the high quality of tennis, it was unbelievable, the match today. 

“Jannik Sinner is a great player, everybody could see his level is just amazing.”

This was the latest installment in what is fast becoming one of the sport’s most compelling rivalries.

Carlos Alcaraz (R) embraces Jannik Sinner after winning their US Open quarterfinal match in five hours, 15 minutes; it is the second-longest match in the tournament's history. (Getty Images)

And it served as revenge for Alcaraz, who had lost his last two meetings with the Italian – including their fourth-round Wimbledon clash.

Alcaraz now leads the series 3-2. 

ALCARAZ v SINNER: "Their quality is just phenomenal"

After all the opportunities he missed in sets two and three, Alcaraz looked all but finished when he fell behind 3-1 in the fourth, and Sinner’s irresistible ball-striking looked set to carry him into a maiden major semifinal. 

But the world No.3, enjoying a breakout season, tapped into something deep within himself.

RELATED: Inspired by Serena, Alcaraz learning to manage expectations

As Sinner served for the match, Alcaraz started down a match point in a tense deuce game, and once again rebounded despite having his serve broken decisively in the fifth game of the final set. 

"I always say, you have to believe in yourself, all the time. The hope is the last thing you lose,” he said.

“I just believe in myself, believe in my game... It's really difficult to close the match, so I have to stay in the match, trying to stay calm, but it's difficult to stay calm in that moment.”

Carlos Alcaraz reacts after defeating Jannik Sinner in the 2022 US Open quarterfinals. (Getty Images)

Making this result all the more incredible was the fact Alcaraz had also won his previous match in five sets, finally subduing Marin Cilic at 2.24am on Tuesday.

He will next face fellow semifinal debutant Frances Tiafoe, who joked after his straight-sets win over Andrey Rublev that he would “sit back and watch them battle, while they battle late night and I'm kickin' the feet up”. 

“Let them battle all night, hopefully," Tiafoe said.

The American got his wish.

TIAFOE TOPPLES TITAN NADAL: "I just believed I could do it"

But Alcaraz indicated that his body was not suffering, despite the physical toll of his 2022 US Open campaign so far. 

“I felt great,” said Alcaraz, who remains in contention for the world No.1 ranking.

RELATED: Ruud, into US Open semis, closes in on No.1 ranking

“Probably at the end of the match I was in my end, let's say. It was really, really tough for me. (But) during the whole match, five hours, 15 minutes, I feel great physically.

“The level of tennis that we have played, it was really, really high. But I felt great.”