Alcaraz defeats Cilic in late-night thriller to set up Sinner clash

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NEW YORK, Sept 6 (Reuters) – Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz defeated 2014 champion Marin Cilic 6-4 3-6 6-4 4-6 6-3 on Monday in one of the last finals in the history of the US Open to set up a next generation quarterfinal against Jannik Sinner.

After battling for three hours and 53 minutes at Arthur Ashe Stadium, where the roof was closed due to rain, Alcaraz, 19, fell to his knees in jubilation after sealing the game on his first match point when the return de Cilic hit the net.

The large crowd on the main Flushing Meadows showcourt gave the players a standing ovation with the clock striking 2:23 a.m., minutes from the final hard-court Grand Slam finish in New York.

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Cilic, 33, looked to have regained his momentum when he broke Alcaraz’s serve late in the fourth set to level the game at 2-2 and started the deciding stanza with another break in the opener .

But Alcaraz, who delighted the crowd with his athleticism in jaw-dropping rallies, regained his composure to smash Cilic in his next two service games and set himself on course for a third victory this year against the Croatian.

“Honestly, I have no idea,” Alcaraz said on the pitch when asked how he managed to get the win. “It was quite, quite difficult at the start of the fifth set (to be) down.

“Marin was playing amazing. But I believe in myself all the time. Of course the support today for Arthur Ashe (Stadium) was crazy. Without you it wouldn’t be possible to win this game tonight so thank you much for the support.

“I would say 100% of the energy I put into the fifth set was thanks to you. It was amazing.”

Alcaraz’s win over 15th-seeded Cilic ensured there will be a new men’s Grand Slam champion on Sunday and also allowed the Spaniard to become the world’s youngest number one when the ATP rankings are set. updated after the final.

The third seed will then meet 21-year-old Italian Sinner, seeded 11th, for a first place finish in the Grand Slam semi-finals.

Sinner also emerged victorious in a marathon against Ilya Ivashka, winning 6-1 5-7 6-2 4-6 6-3 after three hours and 47 minutes.

The 11th-seeded Italian has beaten Alcaraz twice this year – in the fourth round at Wimbledon and in the ATP 250 final at Umag.

“I played against him a few times. He’s a great player, really tough,” Alcaraz said. “I’ve lost twice in the last two months, so I’ll have to be ready for this battle against Jannik.”

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Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; edited by Peter Rutherford

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