U.S. Open: Teenager Carlos Alcaraz upsets No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas

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Carlos Alcaraz, of Spain, reacts after winning a point against Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Carlos Alcaraz wins a point against Stefanos Tsitsipas during their third-round match at the U.S. Open on Friday. (Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain pulled off the biggest upset of this year’s U.S. Open, riding his devastating backhand and sheer nerve to a stunning third-round victory over No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece on Friday.

Alcaraz, 18, dipped physically and emotionally in the fourth set but became alive in the fifth set to complete a 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 0-6, 7-6 (5) win before an adoring crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Alcaraz, considered an up-and-coming player, arrived in style by showing remarkable poise on one of the sport’s biggest stages.

“I think without the crowd I haven’t the possibility to win the match,” he said during an on-court interview. “I was down at the beginning of the fourth set so thank you to you, the crowd, to pushing me up in the fifth set.

“It’s an incredible feeling for me.”

Alcaraz is the youngest male player to reach the fourth round of the U.S. Open since 17-year-old Michael Chang and 18-year-old Pete Sampras did so in 1989.

“This is a dream come true for me,” said Alcaraz, who received treatment from a trainer after the fourth set for what appeared to be muscle tightness in his right thigh or leg. “For sure, here is more special for me.”

Alcaraz was the crowd favorite from the start. Tsitsipas, 23, has drawn scorn from fans and fellow players for taking prolonged bathroom breaks during the Open and at previous tournaments, but he took a break on Friday that was of reasonable length, about three minutes. However, he did receive warnings for a time violation and a coaching violation.

Garbine Muguruza defeats Victoria Azarenka

Garbine Muguruza pumps her fist after scoring a point against Victoria Azarenka on Friday at the U.S. Open.
Garbine Muguruza pumps her fist after scoring a point against Victoria Azarenka on Friday at the U.S. Open. (Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

Spain’s Garbine Muguruza won a third-round U.S. Open matchup between a pair of two-time Grand Slam singles champions on Friday, outlasting Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Both women also spent time ranked No. 1 in the world.

Muguruza, seeded No. 9, and Azarenka, seeded No. 18, have had difficulty staying at the top since their Grand Slam triumphs.

Azarenka, who won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, gave birth to a son, Leo, in December 2016 and soon afterward became embroiled in a custody battle with her ex-boyfriend, Billy McKeague. She was not permitted to take Leo out of California — where she was living — and decided to limit her travel and competition rather than leave him behind. Azarenka, who has since moved to Florida, won custody of her son. She was a finalist at the U.S. Open last year and lost in three sets to Naomi Osaka.

Muguruza won the French Open in 2016 and won Wimbledon in 2017 but won only one tournament in 2018 and one in 2019. She has rarely done well on the hard courts at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and she said it meant a lot to her to reach the fourth round here for only the second time in her career.

“It’s always a Grand Slam where I’m struggling,” Muguruza said during an on-court interview. “This year so far it’s working and I just want to keep going.”

Muguruza committed 24 unforced errors and hit 34 winners. Azarenka committed 30 unforced errors and hit 23 winners.

“I’m very happy to have played before an amazing crowd,” Muguruza said. “After the whole year playing without crowds, this is amazing.”

In the day’s first match, No. 12 seed Simona Halep of Romania — also a two-time Slam singles champion — advanced with a 7-6 (11), 4-6, 6-3 victory over No. 19 Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan. The quality of play in the tiebreaker was remarkably good and thoroughly entertaining for the crowd at Louis Armstrong Stadium.

“I have nothing to lose,” Halep said of her attitude coming into the match. “Finally, I am in the fourth round, after three years.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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