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Carlos Alcaraz Is Scary PROFICIENT AT Tennis

American Frances Tiafoe, 24, could quickly be playing in tomorrows U.S. Open mens final. With a rollicking Friday night NEW YORK crowdwhich included Michelle Obama and Jon Bon Jovisquarely on his side, he turned within an inspiring performance in Fridays semi, fighting when all seemed lost to force a fifth set. He played sufficiently to beat most opponents.

But Carlos Alcaraz, 19, is definately not most players. He might just standalone.

A little bit of hyperbole for an adolescent who just made his first Grand Slam final? Typically, sure.

Alcaraz sure doesnt feel typical.

Just count the ways. Coming off a quarterfinal match that took 5 hours, 15 minutes and ended at 2: 50 AM Thursday morning, Alcaraz summoned every tool in his stunning tennis arsenal on Friday night during another marathon thriller: that one went 4 hours, 18 minutes. In his 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-3 victory over Tiafoe, Alcaraz chased down balls he previously no to reach, a talent that clearly invaded Tiafoes headspace: Tiafoe made several ghastly unforced errors while attempting to send shots far awaytoo far awayfrom the Spanish teenager. Alcaraz, who’ll face No. 5 Casper Ruud, of Norway, in Sundays final, dialed up the energy when he needed. He deployed surprise drop shots when Tiafoe least expected. Alcaraz also painted the edges of the court, as an artiste. At one point, Tiafoe laughed and shook his head, once the robotic umps revealed, once more, an Alcaraz winner did indeed clip the line.

AN ISSUE

There is probably the most exciting moments of the tournament, or even the entire year. Alcaraz needed yet another indicate force a first-set tiebreaker. He chased down not just one, not two, but three Tiafoe finesse shots: Tiafoe actually sent the ultimate one past Alcaraz, but Alacaraz refused to stop. He scuttled back towards the baseline before whipping an impossible passing shot past Tiafoe. The crowd roared, as though Serena Williams just clinched match point.

Sure, American tennis fans are partisan. The lets go Frances chants give that away. However they deserve some credit: the brand new York crowd always appreciates the surreal.

I never played a man who moves along with him, honestly, says Tiafoe. How hes in a position to extend points, incredible. Hes a hell of a new player. Hes likely to be considered a problem for a long time.

There is also a charming juncture early in the next set, when Alcaraz and Tiafoe dueled on a 17-shot rally. Alcarez made a steller defensive play, as he lunged at an Tiafoe laser up the line; Alcarez somehow got his racket onto it, sending the ball back on the net to increase the idea. After Alcaraz eventually forced a backhand error from Tiafoe, the American leapt on the net and waved a hand at him, as though to say, are you currently kidding me? They laughed.

If this is actually the future of tennis, expect such joyous moments for a long time.

There is that lob in the fifth set, that got him to complement point. Alcaraz ran down a Tiafoe attempt, slid on his shoes as though he was on clayAshe may be the hardest of hardcourtsand lofted successful right at the baseline. One last message: Alcaraz was just too good tonight.

MANUFACTURED IN Spain

Alcaraz was created in to the game. Hailing from El Palmar, an area of the town of Murciawhere a giant mural now hangs in his honorhis father Carlos ran a tennis academy. His grandfather was the initial person in a tennis club. He received his first racket when he was three. His coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero, may be the former world No. 1 from Spain: he won the French Open in exactly the same year, 2003, Alcaraz was created.

Alcaraz has won four tournaments this season, in Rio, Miami, Barcelona, and Madrid. Just like the U.S. Open, Miami is really a hardcourt event, and something of the very most prestigious outside the majors: there, in early April, Alcaraz downed Ruud in the ultimate. In Madrid, he bounced his idol Rafael Nadal, then-world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, no. 3 Alexander Zverev of Germany in successive matches.

The winner of the Alcarez-Ruud final would be the ” new world ” No. 1. If Alcaraz prevails, hed end up being the youngest top-ranked player ever. Hes played nearly 10 hours of tennis in his last two matches. Fatigue could occur. But Alcaraz can be 19 and intensely fit.

Regardless of what Im fighting for or what I’m, I [am] just choosing it and enjoy[ing] as soon as, he says.

Write to Sean Gregory at sean.gregory@time.com.

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