US Open: Tiafoe, Alcaraz, Khachanov, Ruud... how to explain this young and unprecedented last square

US Open: Tiafoe, Alcaraz, Khachanov, Ruud… how to explain this young and unprecedented last square

Only one of them has already played at this level in a Grand Slam, and all four are preparing to discover the last four at the US Open. In New York, the men’s tournament is about to experience an unprecedented outcome with four players looking for their first victory in one of the major tournaments on the circuit. But how did the New York lifting give birth to the semi-finals scheduled for Friday between Karen Khachanov and Casper Ruud on one side, and Carlos Alcaraz and Frances Tiafoe on the other? Explanations.

Cadors absent or in delicacy

It’s not very polite for those present, but let’s start by talking about those who have long monopolized this last four and will follow it on television this time. The famous Big Three Federer-Djokovic-Nadal is absent from the debates for significantly different reasons. The Swiss has had three knee operations in a year and a half and his return scheduled for the Laver Cup at the end of September after more than a year of absence remains uncertain. The Serb was, as at the Australian Open in January less twists and turns, refused by local authorities permission to set foot on American soil because of his refusal to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

There remains the Spaniard, the only member of the trio lined up in New York this year, but left in the round of 16 by one of the semi-finalists, the American Frances Tiafoe. No injury on the horizon this time for the one who had been forced to abandon Wimbledon. But just the feeling of a lack of mobility and juice for the 36-year-old tennis player, whose mind was not totally in the United States with his wife’s pregnancy. “I need to go home, the last few months have been difficult. I have more important things than tennis to settle, ”he slipped after his elimination.

Finally, let’s move on to the best-placed successor. World number one Daniil Medvedev was eliminated in the eighth round by Nick Kyrgios and will lose his place at the end of the tournament. As for his dolphin in the ATP ranking, Alexander Zverev, he is still not recovered from his terrible ankle injury at Roland-Garros.

Strong potential world number ones

They dream of a title, but also of ascending the throne of tennis. Casper Ruud and Carlos Alcaraz can both dislodge Medvedev if they win the tournament or lose in the final without the other being his executioner. Seeing potential world number ones at this level is anything but a surprise. Seeded number 5, the 23-year-old Norwegian played his first Grand Slam final in June at Roland-Garros where he was swept away in three sets by Nadal. But this clay court specialist has made significant progress this season on hard courts, as evidenced by his Masters 1000 final in Miami or his quarter won with authority (6-1, 6-4, 7-6) against the Italian Matteo Berrettini.

For Carlos Alcaraz, this first semi-final is more than logical given the talent of the 19-year-old Spaniard. The latter signed one of the biggest victories of the season by winning an epic quarter-final (6-3, 6-7, 6-7, 7-5, 6-3) against Jannik Sinner this Thursday morning in France, at the end of the night in Flushing Meadows. 5h15 of a crazy fight with the Italian, with a match point saved as a bonus.

“I’m tired but at the same time I’m very happy to have won such a difficult match against Jannik. The level to which we evolved was incredible. I would say it’s the best match of my career, “he rejoiced, referring to “a new stage” with this first participation in the half. The continuation of a crazy season, with already two Masters 1000 – Miami and Madrid – won.

A little surprise and a local driven by New York

We would have bet less on him, but seeing Karen Khachanov in the semi-finals of a Grand Slam is not science fiction. The former eighth in the world was playing his third Grand Slam quarter-final at the US Open where he won his duel (7-5, 4-6, 7-5, 6-7, 6-4) against the Australian Nick Kyrgios. The 26-year-old is certainly 31st in the ATP rankings, but has some references, including a Rolex Paris Masters in 2018 and an Olympic final a year ago in Tokyo.

Frances Tiafoe is a real surprise, with only one Grand Slam quarter to her credit in 2019 in Australia. But the 24-year-old American took out Nadal then Russian Andrey Rublev in the quarter-finals, carried by a boosted Arthur-Ashe stadium behind him. “I feel like home, this court is incredible, everyone pushes me, I have to give the best of myself, he described after validating his ticket for the semi-finals. I take advantage of these moments, but there are two games left.

“He plays incredibly fair. He is full of confidence, wary of his next opponent, Carlos Alcaraz. He loves the public, this court. I will have to be at my best. To hope to be the better neophyte of the two.

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