Alcaraz into US Open last-eight after early morning epic

NEW YORK (AFP): Carlos Alcaraz reached the US Open quarter-finals for a second successive year when he defeated 2014 champion Marin Cilic in an epic last-16 tie which finished at 02:23 a.m. on Tuesday in New York.

In a gruelling three-hour and 54-minute encounter, Cilic was under siege, having to save 12 of 18 break points while committing 66 unforced errors.

The 19-year-old Alcaraz, seeded three and seen as the title favorite after the elimination of four-time champion Rafael Nadal, will face Jannik Sinner of Italy for a semi-final place.

Sinner holds a 2-1 advantage over Alcaraz with both wins coming this year at Wimbledon and Umag.

“I believed in myself, it was pretty tough,” said Alcaraz.

“I was a break down in the fifth set. It was tough to come back after losing the fourth set.”

Alcaraz overcame a 0-2 deficit in the first set to seal the opener and was a break ahead early in the second before the 33-year-old Cilic stormed back to level the contest.

Alcaraz pounced in the 10th game of the third set to carve out the only break and a two sets to one lead.

The Spaniard twice had Cilic on the ropes late in the fourth set but allowed four break points to slip away.

Cilic grabbed his unexpected lifeline to take the match to a fifth set decider.

But Alcaraz, having wasted six break points in the fourth set, finally converted for what was a key 3-1 lead.