Tennis fans have bemoaned the US Open's scheduling decision which saw Carlos Alcaraz beat Jannik Sinner in a quarter-final epic that finished just before 3am on Thursday.
Alcaraz, the 19-year-old No.3 seed, won 6-3 6-7 (9-7) 6-7 (7-0) 7-5 6-3 in an incredible battle lasting five hours and 15 minutes.
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The Spanish star finally won the last point at 2.50am on Thursday - the latest finish to a match in US Open history.
"Honestly, I still don't know how I did it," said Alcaraz, who saved a match point in the fourth set before beating his Italian opponent.
Alcaraz, whose five-set victory over 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic ended at 2:23 am on Tuesday, reached his first grand slam semi-final and is the youngest man to get that far in New York since Pete Sampras won the title at age 19 in 1990.
The Spaniard now has a chance to grab the World No.1 ranking next week, but will first have to beat Frances Tiafoe of the United States on Friday.
Tiafoe earlier followed up his victory over Rafael Nadal by beating Andrey Rublev to become the first American man to reach the US Open semi-finals in 16 years.
Tiafoe's clash with Alcaraz shapes as another blockbuster, but the American will have a significant advantage in more rest and recovery time.
While Alcaraz was still on court approaching 3am, Tiafoe was able to start his recovery about eight hours earlier after playing in the day session on Wednesday.
With just four matches on the slate on Wednesday, organisers scheduled two in the day session and two at night, with Alcaraz and Sinner not getting on court until Iga Swiatek's win over Jessica Pegula had finished.
The early morning finish meant Arthur Ashe Stadium was only about one quarter full by the end, with the majority of spectators missing out on what has been described as one of the greatest matches ever.
Fans took to social media to bemoan the scheduling, with many suggesting there should have been three day matches and just the one in the night session.
That's a disgrace!! For the players is an insane schedule,3 am!!!!
Its not good for the tennis
How is going to recover Alcaraz?? Its not fair at all
— javier ibañez caro (@Toraco71) September 8, 2022
— Piero (@prcPeru) September 8, 2022
Shame on USO for scheduling these late night matches, it’s ridiculous. Think about the players - how will they recover ??
— Sidhartha Priye (@sidharthapriye) September 8, 2022
Are you proud of this ridiculous spectacle of "the future of tennis" playing till 3 am? This match deserves a full stadium at 7 pm. One of greatest matches ever. Historic.
— Christopher Johnson (The Globalite) (@globaliteman) September 8, 2022
Night sessions are definitely TOO LATE for players and audience on spot and even more for foreign audience (Europe for example). Alcaraz don’t have the same time to recover than Tiafoe. So sad and unequal 🤷🏻♀️👎🏻
— trotroll (@trotroll) September 8, 2022
You'll actually shouldn't be proud of this
These players need a better schedule they still have press ( which they are forced to do ) and also recover
Do better please 🙏🏽
— Bombo Tshazi (@BomboTshazi3) September 8, 2022
Nothing to be proud of. The late late scheduling is giving the winner of the match a big disadvantage for the next match.
— Doris (@DorisLaRubia) September 8, 2022
Carlos Alcaraz to battle Frances Tiafoe in semi-final
Alcaraz can become the youngest men's World No.1 of all time should he make the final.
"As long as Rafa, Djokovic, Federer are there, they will be the best and the rivalry they have between them will always come first," he said.
"But Jannik and I have shown that we are the present and we also have long careers ahead of us."
After his much more mundane 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-0) 6-4 victory over Rublev, Tiafoe was asked about Alcaraz and Sinner.
"I just hope they play a marathon match, super-long match," Tiafoe said with a smile, "and they get really tired come Friday."
Not since Andy Roddick in 2006 has a home player reached the last four in the men's singles, and Tiafoe is attempting to become the first home champion since Roddick won his only slam title in 2003.
The 24-year-old pulled off the win of his life against Nadal in the fourth round but this was just as impressive, with Tiafoe keeping his composure while Russian Rublev became increasingly frustrated to claim a 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-0) 6-4 victory.
"This is wild, this is crazy," said Tiafoe. "Biggest win of my life, coming out and getting another big win.
"It's huge growth. It's tough to turn a page but I did and now I'm in the semis.
"I feel so at home on courts like this. I want to play, I want to give my best. Let's enjoy this one but we've got two more guys."
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