Carlos Alcaraz battled past Jannik Sinner in five sets to reach the U.S. Open semifinals Thursday in the latest ever finish in the tournament's 141-year history.
A thrilling 5 hours 15-minute duel that finished at 2:50 a.m. local time ended with the 19-year-old Alcaraz claiming a 6-3, 6-7 (7/9), 6-7 (0/7), 7-5, 6-3 victory to advance to a last-four showdown with Frances Tiafoe of the United States on Friday.
The previous record for the latest finish to a U.S. Open match was 2:26 a.m., which had been set three times before.
Incredibly, it was the second early-hours-of-the-morning finish for Alcaraz this week.
The Spanish No. 3 seed had edged past Croatia's Marin Cilic in another five-set epic in the fourth round in a match that finished at 2:23 a.m. local time on Tuesday.
A crowd of a few thousand die-hard spectators roared their appreciation for Alcaraz as the Spaniard collapsed to the Arthur Ashe Stadium court in delight after a famous victory over Sinner, the 21-year-old Italian 11th seed.
"Honestly, I still don't know I did it," said Alcaraz after a win which came after he survived a match point in the fourth set.
"It was a high quality and unbelievable match. Jannik is a great player. His level is just amazing.
"I always say that you have to believe in yourself all the time. Hope is the last thing that you lose. I just believed in myself and believed in my game."
With the hopes of a nation resting on his shoulders, American Frances Tiafoe rose to the occasion Wednesday by reaching his first Grand Slam semifinal with a 7-6(3), 7-6(0), 6-4 win over Russian Andrey Rublev.
Not since Andy Roddick in 2003 has a U.S. man won the title at Flushing Meadows and the pressure was on for the 24-year-old to build on his stunning win over second seed Rafa Nadal in the fourth round.
He did not disappoint, launching 18 aces and 46 winners in a dominant performance, injecting new excitement among the home crowd after 23-times Grand Slam winner Serena Williams bowed out following what is expected to be her final appearance in the third round.
"This is wild, this is crazy," Tiafoe said. "We've got two more."
Rublev put up a fight for two sets but his game unraveled as Tiafoe stormed through the second set tiebreak, shouting out in anger and whacking his racket after an ace from the American flew past him.
The Russian bit down on a tennis ball and sat with his face buried in a towel after Tiafoe triumphed in a 16-shot rally to get the only break of the match in the seventh game of the third set.
Tiafoe sealed the win with an ace to the delight of the roaring crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Iga Swiatek reached her third Grand Slam semifinal of 2022 on Wednesday and first at the U.S. Open with an error-strewn triumph over Jessica Pegula, the last remaining American woman in the tournament.
French Open champion Swiatek claimed a 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) win, her third against Pegula this year.
In Thursday's semifinal, the 21-year-old Pole will face Aryna Sabalenka who she has also got the better of on three occasions this season.
World No. 6 Sabalenka made the last four for a second successive year with a 6-1, 7-6 (7/4) victory over former finalist Karolina Pliskova.
"That will be a very tough match. There will be some fast serves and heavy hitting, just like tonight," said Swiatek who beat Sabalenka in Doha, Stuttgart and Rome.
The Pole went on to win the titles at those events, three of her six trophies collected in 2022.
On Wednesday, she came through a mistake-plagued quarterfinal which featured 13 breaks of serve and a combined 61 unforced errors.
"It means a lot to be in the semifinals for the first time," said Swiatek.
Swiatek overcame giving up the first break of the match in the fifth game to reel off 16 of the next 18 points to claim the opening set in 38 minutes.
The pair exchanged three service breaks apiece in the first eight games in an untidy second set.
It was the French Open champion who carved out the seventh break on a net cord to give herself the opportunity to serve for the match.