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A US Open Tennis instant classic: Alcaraz outlasts Sinner after five hours and 15 minutes at 2:50 am

Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz (R) greets Italy’s Jannik Sinner at the net after winning their US Open quarterfinal match. (Photo by Corey Sipkin / AFP) (Photo by COREY SIPKIN/AFP via Getty Images)

By Ricky Dimon

Wednesday night’s U.S. Open quarterfinal between Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner was the second-longest match in tournament history at five hours and 15 minutes. It set the record for the latest-ever finish at 2:50 am.

It was every bit as good as it was long, too. A back-and-forth thriller of the highest quality eventually went Alcaraz’s way, as the 19-year old triumphed 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-7(0), 7-5, 6-3. He saved a match point in the fourth set and came back from a break down in fifth to keep his hopes alive for a maiden Grand Slam title and the No. 1 ranking.

However, you can’t blame Alacaraz if he needs some time to recover and reflect before looking ahead to the next tasks–which are a semifinal date with Casper Ruud on Friday possibly followed by Sunday’s title match against either Casper Ruud over Karen Khchanov. The Spaniard was already coming off a five-set victory over Marin Cilic in the fourth round before he made a bit of history with Sinner. Their epic battle ended 24 minutes later than the previous U.S. Open record (three matches tied at 2:26 am) and a 1992 semifinal between Stefan Edberg and Michael Chang is the only match at Flushing Meadows that has lasted longer (five hours and 26 minutes).

It was Sinner who had a chance to get across the finish before such records came into play. The 21-year-old Italian brought up match point while serving for victory at 5-4 in the fourth, but he missed a first serve and Alcaraz forced an error with a strong return.

The No. 3 seed also erased a deficit in the fifth. Sinner led 3-2 with a break and led 40-15 on serve with a chance to reach 4-2, but he could not consolidate. A break back for Alcaraz began a match-closing streak of four consecutive games in his favor.

“Honestly, I still don’t know how I did it,” Alcaraz said afterward. “You have to believe in yourself. I believed in my game…. I am going to enjoy [achieving] my first semifinal of a Grand Slam and tomorrow will be the time to think about the [semifinal match].”

For Sinner, it was his toughest loss.

“I (have) had some tough losses, for sure,” the world No. 13 reflected. “This is [on] the top list. I think this one will hurt for quite a while.

“But tomorrow I wake up — or today I wake up — trying to somehow take only the positives, trying to take away the other part. But it’s tough, for sure…. This kind of level was very high for sure. It was a good match–I hope also for the spectators.”

Yeah, I’d say so. A good match? It was nothing less than the match of the year.

Editors Note • Tennis players are the worlds best athletes. What other sport on earth is played past midnite ? Or even11pm ? These guys did it. Tennis is so messed up. It’s so powered by GREED … maybe they should sell 3 sessions every 24 hours . How can these elite athletes perform at the end of the day. Stop late night sessions! It’s just plain dumb. Bravo to the warrior athletes. It’s now truly a young pros world…. (LJ) 🎾

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.