Carlos Alcaraz reached his first Grand Slam final and gave himself the chance to become number 1 at the age of 19 by finishingrun with a 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-3 win on Friday night.
Number 3 Alcaraz took the lead by taking nine out of ten matches in one piece and could have ended the semi-finals when he had a match point in the fourth set. Tiafoe saved that and forced a fifth set by improving to 8-0 in tiebreaks during the tournament.
Alcaraz showed no signs of fatigue after his victory in the 5-hour 15-minute quarter-final that ended at 2:50 am on Thursday, and Alcaraz was better on the track, winning four of the last five games.
Alcaraz will take on number 7 Casper Ruud for the championship on Sunday with so much at stake: the winner becomes a major champion for the first time and leads the rankings next week.
Ruud, a 23-year-old from Norway, claimed a 55-shot point to close the opening set of his semifinal, beating Karen Khachanov 7-6(5), 6-2, 5-7, 6-2.
Tiafoe managed two stunning setbacks before losing to Alcaraz and fallingin the fourth round, and Russian Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals.
“I love to show the world what I can do,” Tiafoe said after beating Rublev. “I just want to go out there and try to give the public what they want – and that’s me taking the win.”
For Tiafoe, Andy Roddick was the last American man to reach the semifinals in New York, losing to Roger Fededer in the title match 16 years ago. Roddick was also the last man in the country to win a Grand Slam singles championship, winning the 2003 US Open.