Alcaraz savors the suffering | Canary Islands7

Alcaraz celebrates a point in the match against Cilic. / REUTERS

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The Murcian prevails in five sets against Cilic and returns to the quarterfinals a year later

Almost four hours of play, five sets and a former champion lying on the court. It was difficult for Carlos Alcaraz like never before, but he achieved one of the hardest-fought victories in his career at the Grand Slams to beat the Croatian (6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 4-6 and 6-3) and get into in the quarterfinals of the US Open for the second year in a row.

Alcaraz remains as the only Spanish representative in the tournament, after Rafael Nadal's defeat against Frances Tiafoe, and remains with the possibility of being number one in the world. If he wins the tournament he will have it insured and also if he reaches the final and beats any tennis player other than Casper Ruud. If both meet in the title fight, the champion will take the honor.

And it was not easy to continue in the list of becoming the youngest number one in the world - he would exceed the 20 years and 8 months with which Lleyton Hewitt sat on the throne. The Murcian had a lot to row to incline a Cilic who, at 33 years old, has rejuvenated his tennis and is playing not far from the level that made him proclaim champion here.

After an overwhelming start from the Croatian, who won the first two games, Alcaraz had to come from behind to score everything from 2-2. It was a hit on the table from Murcia, to which Cilic responded with a slap of winners. The 11 that he set in the second set served to level the match and show Alcaraz that the match was going to be more difficult than the ones the Spaniard won this year in Miami and Madrid.

Cilic's marches slowed in the third set and Alcaraz made blood from the Croatian's 15 unforced errors to take an advantage that seemed definitive. Above all, when he had five break balls in the fourth quarter that left him with the game on a plate. Alcaraz forgave, gave up his serve and then wasted two more balls on the Croat's serve. He missed the sentencing set and went deep into the sixth match five sets into his career.

His record of five wins and one loss (to Berrettini this year in Australia) encouraged optimism, but Cilic started with a break in the first game. The threat was greater than ever, but Alcaraz responded with the wicks of a champion of him. Four games in a row the Spaniard signed up, not conceding any more chances on his serve and sealing his spot in the US Open quarterfinals, repeating last year's feat.

With this result, Carlos Alcaraz is placed number two in the ranking provisionally, only behind Rafael Nadal, who still has a 710-point advantage over the Murcian. He will need to reach the final to beat him, always keeping an eye on Ruud, who faces Berrettini for a place in the semi-finals.

Alcaraz will face Jannik Sinner this Wednesday, who also had a hard time eliminating Belarusian Ilya Ivashka (6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 4-6 and 6-3). It will be the opportunity to avenge the losses to Sinner this year in the Wimbledon quarters and the Umag final. The rivalry between two of the best youngsters in the world is equal to two victories for each one, but Sinner's came this year and Alcaraz's in Paris 2021 and a Challenger in Alicante in 2019.

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