Carlos Alcaraz will "give everything" to win the US Open and become world number one as he prepares to face Casper Ruud in Sunday's final.

Alcaraz overcame home favourite Frances Tiafoe in a thrilling five-set semi-final at Flushing Meadows on Friday, winning 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-3.

The 19-year-old will take on Ruud for the title after the Norwegian beat Karen Khachanov in four sets earlier in the day.

The honour of becoming world number one will also be on the line for both, after current holder Daniil Medvedev was eliminated in the round of 16 by Nick Kyrgios.

Speaking on-court after his victory against a spirited Tiafoe, Alcaraz said: "To be honest in the semi-final of a grand slam you have to give everything. 

"We have to fight until the last ball. It doesn't matter if we are fighting for five hours, six hours. It doesn't matter. You have to give everything on court. Frances gave everything on court. This is amazing."

The winner of Sunday's final will seal his first career grand slam, while Alcaraz will create history if he wins as it will make him the youngest world number one since the ATP rankings began in 1973.

It will be the Spaniard's first grand slam final, while his opponent appeared in a losing effort to Rafael Nadal in June's French Open final.

Alcaraz will need to recover from his third consecutive five-set match at the US Open, but insisted he will "give everything" to win.

"It's amazing to be able to fight for big things. First time in the final of a grand slam. I can see the number one in the world, but at the same time it's so far away," Alcaraz added.

"I have one more to go against a player who is unbelievable. He deserves to play a final. He played the final of a grand slam in Roland Garros. This is my first time. 

"I'm going to give everything that I have. I will have to handle the nerves of being in a final of a grand slam, but obviously I'm really, really happy and as I said before every match, I'm going to enjoy the moment."

Frances Tiafoe insisted he will return and win the US Open "one day" after coming up short in an enthralling five-set semi-final against Carlos Alcaraz.

The home favourite won the first and fourth sets on tie breaks, only to lose the decider as his 19-year-old opponent sealed a 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 victory on Friday.

Tiafoe was emotional after his loss as an appreciative crowd at Flushing Meadows acknowledged his efforts.

"I gave everything I had," he said during his on-court interview. "Too good from Carlos tonight.

"I gave everything I had for the last two weeks. I came here wanting to win the US Open and I feel I let you guys down."

The 24-year-old had an impressive run in the tournament, beating higher seeds Diego Schwartzman, Rafael Nadal and Andrey Rublev to reach the final four.

"This one hurts. This one really, really hurts," he added. "Too good from Carlos, you're gonna win a lot of grand slams, you're a hell of a player, hell of a person.

"I'm happy I got to share the court and such a big stage with you. 

"I'm going to come back and I will win this thing one day. I'm sorry guys."

Alcaraz will face Casper Ruud in Sunday's final after the Norwegian beat Karen Khachanov in four sets in Friday's other semi-final.

Casper Ruud called facing off against Carlos Alcaraz in the US Open final with the world number one ranking also on the line "the ideal situation" after successfully navigating the challenge of Karen Khachanov in Friday's semi-final.

Ruud needed just over three hours to defeat the Russian 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 5-7 6-2, becoming the first Norwegian man to ever reach the US Open final.

With Alcaraz outlasting Frances Tiafoe in a five-set battle of attrition, the 23-year-old Ruud and 19-year-old Alcaraz will both be seeking their first ever grand slam title in Sunday's decider.

Speaking to the media before Alcaraz's match, Ruud said he hoped it would be the Spaniard who made it through so they could play off for the number one ranking.

"I think what's most fair is if we both reach the final and whoever wins the final reaches the world number one," he said. "That would be, I think, the ideal situation."

He then dove into some strategy about what it takes to beat the teenage sensation, saying "I will seek my revenge" for the two losses he has suffered at the hands of Alcaraz in Miami and Marbella this season, both in straight sets.

"I think if I want to beat Carlos, I'll need to play very precise with all the shots that I hit," he said. "Especially trying to keep him a little bit further back in the court, to play with good depth and length on all my shots.

"If he steps in, he can do anything with the ball. He can rip a winner. He also has great touch with the dropshot. I think he has one of the best dropshots on tour. He can do both shots back and forth, it will sort of get you off guard sometimes with the dropshot.

"If you play with good depth and good length, it's tougher to hit dropshots. That will be something that I will try to focus on.

"We're playing for the tournament and also to be world number one – of course, there will be nerves and we will both feel it. 

"I hope it will be a good match. He has beaten me a couple times and I will seek my revenge."

One advantage Ruud will have over Alcaraz is the fact that this is not his first rodeo, having made the French Open final this year where he lost to Rafael Nadal, but he feels that experience can only help him.

"I mean, Roland Garros, the final, [Nadal] obviously gave me a good beating," he said. 

"After the final I said, If I ever reach one again, I hope it is not Rafa on the other side of the court in Roland Garros because it's sort of an impossible task I think for any player. I'm happy that it's not Rafa on clay.

"I hope it can have prepared me a little bit. At least I know a little bit of what I'm facing when I'm stepping on the court, seeing the trophy on the back of the court, seeing tons of celebrities. 

"Even in Roland Garros, there was royal families there watching. That was a little bit of a new experience for me – I hope I can be more ready for that on Sunday."

Carlos Alcaraz is having a remarkable breakthrough season, and he has a chance to put an exclamation point on it after defeating Frances Tiafoe 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 in Friday's US Open semi-final.

It will be 19-year-old Alcaraz's first appearance in a grand slam final, and with a win against Casper Ruud he will also become the youngest world number one in men's tennis history, beating out Lleyton Hewitt (20 years and nine months old) by over a year.

In a tight first set where both players failed to capitalise on their break point opportunities, Tiafoe saved an Alcaraz set point to force the tiebreaker, where he would finally secure the opening frame with the fourth set point of his own.

With such fine margins deciding the outcomes, some sloppy serving would flip the script in the second set. After Tiafoe had no double faults in the first and Alcaraz had three, it was Alcaraz cleaning things up to post zero for the rest of the match.

Meanwhile, Tiafoe had a pair of costly double faults in the second, which ultimately led to the only break in the set, as Alcaraz converted one of his four opportunities, while saving the three break points he faced.

Tiafoe's vaunted serve continued to meltdown in the third frame, dropping his first-serve accuracy from 67 per cent to 30 per cent, which led to him winning just 35 per cent (seven-of-20) of his service points as Alcaraz lifted.

Alcaraz needed only 34 minutes to wrap up the third set, thanks in large part to Tiafoe committing 12 unforced errors with only six winners, as the Spaniard finished the set with just one ace and four winners.

As the double faults and unforced errors faded away, Tiafoe rediscovered the kind of form and fight that saw him stylishly handle the challenge of Rafael Nadal earlier this week. Tiafoe and Alcaraz traded breaks in four consecutive games in the fourth set, with the American having to save a match point to force another tiebreaker where he would prevail.

But Alcaraz would not be denied, grabbing a crucial break in the opening game of the fifth set, and when Tiafoe snatched it back, his joy was short-lived as Alcaraz re-broke in the very next game to-love, and once more to finish the match.

Data Slam: Alcaraz way ahead of schedule

If he defeats Ruud in the final, Alcaraz will become the second-youngest men's US Open champion ever at 19 years and four months old, trailing only Pete Sampras (19 years, 28 days). 

Both the third and fourth-youngest champions – Oliver Campbell (19 years, six months) and Richard Sears (19 years, 10 months) – won their titles in the late-1800s. 

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Alcaraz - 6/3

Tiafoe - 15/6

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Alcaraz - 59/37

Tiafoe - 51/52

BREAK POINTS WON

Alcaraz - 9/20

Tiafoe - 3/7

Carlos Alcaraz believes New York provides a perfect stage for the first grand slam semi-final of his career after the Spanish teenager edged a late-night thriller with Jannik Sinner.

In the last of the men's singles quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows, Alcaraz prevailed in the latest finish on record at the tournament, sealing a 6-3 6-7 (7-9) 6-7 (0-7) 7-5 6-3 victory at 02:50 local time on Thursday.

Sinner was left crestfallen, saying the defeat was in his "top list" and would hurt "for quite a while". He had served for the match in the fourth set but could not see it out, the 21-year-old seeing Alcaraz exact revenge for defeat in the fourth round at Wimbledon.

At the age of 19, Alcaraz is leading the men's tour for wins this season, one short of reaching 50 for the year, and the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowds have taken him to their hearts.

He is the youngest men's grand slam singles semi-finalist since Rafael Nadal marched to the 2005 French Open title, and the youngest man to reach the last four at the US Open since Pete Sampras in 1990, also on a run to the trophy.

The clash with Sinner was an epic that spanned five hours and 15 minutes, yet Alcaraz said afterwards: "During the whole match, I feel great physically.

"I feel great to be in my first semi-final in a grand slam. I feel better reaching the semi-final here in the US Open. This tournament is amazing. The crowd is amazing, I would say the best in the world.

"The energy I receive in this court at 3am, it was unbelievable. Probably in other tournaments, other places, everybody would have gone to their house to rest. But they keep in the court, supporting me. It was unbelievable.

"I feel great to have a semi-final here in the US Open."

Frances Tiafoe awaits him, after the American took down Andrey Rublev in straight sets on Wednesday, following up his fourth-round win over Rafael Nadal with another accomplished display. The crowd will likely have split allegiances for that semi-final on Friday.

"It's going to be really, really tough," said Alcaraz. "Everybody knows the level of Frances. He has beaten Rafa Nadal, Rublev in three sets. He's playing unbelievable right now, high in confidence.

"He loves the crowd. He loves this court. I'm going to have to play my best. But right now I'm thinking about this match. I'm enjoying this moment. I have a day of rest to think about the semi-final."

Alcaraz also said the possibility of becoming world number one did not cross his mind during the Sinner battle. He would hit the top spot by winning the title, and would also be assured of number one by reaching the final if Casper Ruud loses to Karen Khachanov in the other semi-final.

Sinner can only dream of reaching such heights for now, although his time may come.

He has a 9-20 losing record against top-10 opponents after this setback, but wins over Alcaraz at Wimbledon and later at a smaller event in Umag, Croatia, suggest his game is developing nicely.

The Italian had a strong tournament in New York but was left with regrets after failing to see this one through.

"I've had some tough losses, for sure. This is in the top list," Sinner said. "I think this one will hurt for quite a while.

"But tomorrow I wake up, or today I wake up, trying to somehow take only the positives, trying to take away the other part.

"But it's tough, for sure. In my next tournament I will play Davis Cup. Before, I want to practise again in the best possible way, trying to improve. Maybe next time I can win this, no?"

Carlos Alcaraz survived a Jannik Sinner match point before going on to clinch his maiden grand slam semi-final berth with an epic five-set victory in more than five hours at the US Open.

The Spanish third seed triumphed 6-3 6-7 (7-9) 6-7 (0-7) 7-5 6-3 in the latest-ever finish at the US Open, officially ending at 2:50am Thursday local time.

The match was within nine minutes of being the longest ever in US Open history, the record held by Michael Chang and Stefan Edberg from 1992 of five hours and 26 minutes.

The 19-year-old fought back from a Sinner match point in the fourth set, rallying to force a fifth, where he broke the Italian 11th seed in the eighth game before serving it out for victory.

Alcaraz blew opportunities too, including five set points in the second set, while he failed to serve out the third set before Sinner won the tie-break 7-0 to take all the momentum into the fourth.

But the emerging Alcaraz showcased his doggedness even after falling a break behind in the fourth, to set up a semi-final date against 22nd seed Frances Tiafoe, who has beaten Andrey Rublev and Rafael Nadal in his past two matches.

The win also means Alcaraz is a step closer to claiming the world number one ranking for the first time, which will be achieved if he wins the title, or even if he makes the final and fifth seed Casper Ruud does not.

Data slam: Alcaraz cannot help Nadal comparisons

Alcaraz, 19, is not fond of comparisons to compatriot Rafael Nadal, but his victory means he becomes the youngest grand slam semi-finalist since the 22-time major winner in 2005. 

Little separated Alcaraz and Sinner who will both have won huge admiration, but the Italian's 63 unforced errors compared to the Spaniard's 38 was an outlier.

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Alcaraz – 5/5
Sinner – 8/11

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Alcaraz – 58/38
Sinner – 61/63

BREAK POINTS WON

Alcaraz – 11/26
Sinner – 7/16

The career of Carlos Alcaraz could be one that takes up a great deal of space in the record books, and he is getting started early.

Not yet old enough to buy a stiff drink in a New York bar, the 19-year-old was the toast of Flushing Meadows after a late-night win over Marin Cilic that ran into the early hours of Tuesday.

That five-set win against the 2014 champion, combined with the shock exit of Rafael Nadal at Frances Tiafoe's hands, has raised expectations that Alcaraz could scoop a first grand slam title on Sunday.

Should he land that breakthrough major, there will be another feather in his cap, making Alcaraz the youngest world number one since the ATP rankings were established in 1973, and the first teenager to hold down top spot. He has climbed from 32nd at the start of the year to his current position of fourth on the list.

Nadal is poised to go to number one, which he last held in February 2020, unless Alcaraz or 23-year-old Norwegian Casper Ruud reach the title match. They are the only two players remaining in the draw who can clamber to the top ranking, which Daniil Medvedev will relinquish after his fourth-round exit to Nick Kyrgios.

If both reach the final, the champion will go to number one.

In the city that never sleeps, Alcaraz completed a 6-4 3-6 6-4 4-6 6-3 win over Croatian Cilic at 02:23 local time, three minutes short of matching the latest finish in US Open history, shared jointly by three matches: Mats Wilander vs Mikael Pernfors (1993), John Isner v Philipp Kohlschreiber (2012), Kei Nishikori v Milos Raonic (2014).

The victory on Arthur Ashe Stadium made Alcaraz the youngest man to reach back-to-back US Open quarter-finals since Australians Lew Hoad and Ken Rosewall both achieved the feat before turning 19 in 1953. It was called the US Championships in that era.

Alcaraz has won a tour-leading 48 matches in 2022 and has become the youngest man to reach three grand slam quarter-finals since Michael Chang over 30 years ago.

However, he next faces a player making his own history.

Alcaraz's quarter-final opponent is a recent nemesis: Jannik Sinner, the 21-year-old Italian who beat him in round four at Wimbledon and again in the final of the clay-court event in Umag, Croatia, at the end of July.

"I played a couple of times against him," Alcaraz said. "He's a great player, really tough one. I lost twice in two months [to him] so I will have to be ready for this battle against Jannik."

There is a victory that Alcaraz could point to, having defeated Sinner on an indoor hard court at the Paris Masters last November, but they have never played on an outdoor hard court, which is where they will do battle on Wednesday.

Sinner has now reached the quarter-final stage of all four majors, becoming the youngest man to pull off that feat since a 20-year-old Novak Djokovic completed the set in 2008.

The last-eight duel with Alcaraz could be a sizzling clash, albeit Alcaraz and Sinner had some recharging to do on Tuesday after both were pushed to five sets in round four, in Sinner's case by Ilya Ivashka of Belarus. Alcaraz now has a 6-1 win-loss record in five-set matches.

Nobody remaining in the men's quarter-finals has a slam title to their name, and Alcaraz will hope he continues to have the backing of the crowd in Queens.

He said after fending off Cilic: "Of course, the support today in Arthur Ashe was crazy. After losing the fourth set, it was tough for me to come back in the fifth set, to stay strong mentally. But the energy I received today made me win."

Rafael Nadal's loss to Frances Tiafoe opened up a host of possibilities including a first-time world number one and maiden grand slam winner as the top three's domination of men's singles continues to weaken.

World number three Nadal bowed out in the fourth round to 22nd seed Tiafoe 6-4 4-6 6-4 6-3 on Monday, while third seed Alcaraz triumphed over Marin Cilic 6-4 3-6 6-4 4-6 6-3 in a match that went to almost 2:30am local time.

Cilic was the last remaining male player with a grand slam title to his name, meaning this year's US Open will bring a new major champion.

There may also be a first-time world number one too, with Alcaraz guaranteed to claim the top rank if he wins the US Open title.

Fifth seed Casper Ruud will rise to world number one if he lifts the US Open crown at Flushing Meadows on September 11 too.

If both fall short of the final, Nadal will reclaim the top ranking from 2021 US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, who lost in the fourth round to Nick Kyrgios.

Alcaraz could also scale the rankings summit should he reach the final, assuming Ruud misses out.

Serena Williams' former coach Rick Macci does not foresee a dream US Open triumph for the retiring legend, but believes the Flushing Meadows crowd could help her enjoy a strong run.

Williams, who announced she was "evolving away" from tennis earlier this month, will begin her final US Open campaign against Danka Kovinic on Monday.

While the 40-year-old's tally of 23 grand slam titles is the most of any player in the Open Era (since 1968), she remains one victory short of Margaret Court's all-time record of 24. 

But Macci, who coached both Williams and older sister Venus at the beginning of their trophy-laden careers, struggles to see her adding one final title before signing off.

"They asked me can Serena Williams win the US Open and I said she already has, six times," Macci told Stats Perform. 

"Can she? It's highly unlikely simply because people aren't afraid of her, the movement and confidence aren't like it was because she hasn't played, she hasn't played that much in the last year and you need to play to get your footwork and stamina. 

"The fighting spirit, the Compton street fight and the heart is there. If she gets a good draw, she could beat some people. I like how she played against [Emma] Raducanu [a 6-4 6-0 loss in Cincinnati earlier in August], I like that she's more aggressive, but this takes time. 

"If she can win a few matches who knows what could happen? That crowd in New York is going to take her down memory lane and make her even more competitive, who knows what's going to happen to the person on the other side of the net?

 

"That's why I was so impressed with Raducanu, the way she handled that moment, she played the best match she had in a year. 

"It cuts both ways but it's highly unlikely she can win the Open. 

"She's not even looking at it like that, she's letting everyone savour the moment and going out on her terms and it's going to be must-see tv."

Asked who he thought would emerge victorious at Flushing Meadows, Macci tipped another American to win on home soil, adding: "I'd love to see Coco Gauff because I know the family and I think she has wonderful potential.

"Iga [Swiatek] is vulnerable now because when you win 35 in a row, you feel like you just show up you're going to win. 

"Now that she's lost a few there's a little doubt there. It's wide open, I'm going to go out on a limb and I'm taking Coco Gauff."

As for the men's draw, which appears balanced after Novak Djokovic's non-vaccinated status prevented him from travelling to New York, Macci thinks third seed Carlos Alcaraz could be set for a maiden grand slam win.

"I've already gone out there and talked about this, Carlos Alcaraz is a generational player, he's going to transcend the game," Macci added.

"I've already had people blow back on me like, 'why isn't he winning?' Trust me, he just turned 19 and is [number] four or five in the world, I think he'll win multiple grand slams and he's the next real deal and he's my favourite to win the US Open on the men's side."

Djokovic is not alone in missing the US Open, with Roger Federer also absent as he continues his recovery from knee surgery, while Rafael Nadal is making his first appearance at the slam since triumphing in 2019.

Four different men have tasted success at Flushing Meadows in the last four years, while each of the last three editions have featured different women's singles champions, and Macci believes the issues endured by several ageing greats have made tennis more competitive.

 

"I think a lot of people are heading toward exit stage left and they're not quite at the top, [such as] Federer, or maybe there's the vaccination and maybe Nadal you're not quite where you were and [Andy] Murray," he added.

"Then you've got Serena, you've got these people who are household names that are out of the equation, more people are coming in and it changes everything when you don't have those roadblocks at the round of 16. 

"You're looking at the semis when before, Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray just dominated. There was a time when those four were always in the semis. The women's you could almost predict, now you can't.

"It has nothing to do with the US Open because the young lady that won Wimbledon [Elena Rybakina], you never heard of her. It's just wide open and it's going to take a while to stabilise everything." 

There seems to be no escaping the number 23 for Serena Williams as she prepares for an emotional final grand slam at the US Open.

It is 23 years since the legendary American won her first major singles title at Flushing Meadows, where she was also crowned doubles champion back in 1999.

Williams has gone on to win an astonishing 23 grand slam singles titles and 14 major doubles titles in an incredible career that is about to come to an end in New York.

One of the all-time greats turns 42 next month and although she is unlikely to bow out by claiming an elusive 24th major singles title in her home major, she is sure to be given a spine-tingling farewell.

Novak Djokovic's absence due to not being vaccinated against COVID-19 has been the big talking point in the men's singles, with Rafael Nadal getting an opportunity to extend his record tally of major successes.

Stats Perform picks out the standout numbers to preview the final major of the year as Emma Raducanu and Daniil Medvedev prepare to defend their titles.

Serena's incredible longevity

Such is the remarkable longevity of Williams' career, defending champion Raducanu and world number one Iga Swiatek were not even born when she won her first major.

Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina was only a few months old when the iconic Saginaw native beat Martina Hingis in the 1999 US Open final for the first of so many major titles.

Only Chris Evert can boast as many US Open titles as Williams' tally of six in the Open Era, while she has played in a record 10 finals at Flushing Meadows.

The retiring veteran has 106 victories in her home major, a record in the Open Era, and only Martina Navratilova has recorded more wins in a single major - with 120 at Wimbledon.

Williams will be making her 21st main-draw appearance at the US Open, with only her older sister, Venus, bettering that figure in the Open Era as she prepares for her 23rd.

 

Long-awaited New York return for Nadal 

Nadal has not played at Flushing Meadows since he was crowned champion for a fourth time three years ago, having missed the 2020 tournament amid the coronavirus pandemic and not played last year due to a foot injury.

The Spanish great's hopes of completing a first calendar Grand Slam were ended by an abdominal injury that resulted in his withdrawal from Wimbledon ahead of a scheduled semi-final against Nick Kyrgios.

He could make it three major titles out of four this year in New York, though, where he will be bidding to take his haul of grand slam titles to 23 and move two clear of the absent Djokovic once again.

If Nadal lifts the trophy on Arthur Ashe Stadium, it would give him a record-equalling fifth US Open men's singles title - matching the haul of Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer.

Only Bjorn Borg (89.2 per cent) has a higher winning ratio in grand slam tournaments during the Open Era than Nadal's 88.3 per cent among players with at least 100 victories to their name, 

 

Another record in women's singles?

Teenage Brit Raducanu made history when she became the first qualifier to win a major title last year, beating Leylah Fernandez in the final.

Swiatek has dominated the women's game for much of this year, the highlight being her second French Open triumph.

With the retired Ash Barty, Swiatek and Rybakina taking the singles titles in 2022, there could be four different gram slam champions for a fifth consecutive season - excluding 2020 - and that would be the longest such streak in the Open Era.

Alcaraz to make major breakthrough?

While Nadal will be the Spaniard with the largest burden of expectation on his shoulders, Carlos Alcaraz should be a big threat in New York.

The 19-year-old could become the fifth player in the Open Era to reach at least the quarter-finals in his first two appearances at Flushing Meadows after Ken Rosewall, Arthur Ashe, John Newcombe and Johan Kriek.

Alcaraz has the joint-most ATP Tour titles this year with four, matching Nadal's tally.

Jannik Sinner scored his second big win over Carlos Alcaraz in July as he toppled the Spanish teenager in Sunday's Croatia Open final.

The 20-year-old Italian won his sixth career title on the ATP Tour and the first not on a hard court, beating Alcaraz 6-7 (5-7) 6-1 6-1 on clay at the Goran Ivanisevic Stadion in Umag.

Victory improved Sinner's win-loss record against Spanish players in 2022 to 8-0, and gave him a first trophy of the year. It was Alcaraz's 100th match of his career at ATP level but did not go according to his plan.

A victorious Sinner told Tennis TV: "I am obviously very happy. I come from a tough year until now. We had some unfortunate moments, but we worked every time to play better, to be a better player, to be a better person. So, I'm very happy to be finally lifting a trophy this year, but I know that I still have a lot of things to improve."

Alcaraz, who lost to Sinner's compatriot Lorenzo Musetti in last week's Hamburg European Open final, had six break points in the second game of the second set but failed to break through and fell away.

Sinner said: "He made some unforced errors, and I was very happy that I won this game. Then I returned well and raised my level a little bit, and I think I found a solution then."

Alcaraz was attempting to become the first player since Carlos Moya (2001-03) to win this title in consecutive years but fell short. He said he would have to "keep working hard to win tournaments" and hailed Sinner's "amazing level" over the week.

The 19-year-old will rise into the ATP top four for the first time on Monday but will be wary of Sinner currently having a hold over him.

Their Wimbledon match on July 3 went Sinner's way in four sets.

Small consolation for Alcaraz may have come in the fact he won a set, meaning he has done so in all 49 matches he has played this year, last losing in straight sets when he went down to Hugo Gaston at the Paris Masters last year.

Carlos Alcaraz's defence of his Croatian Open title will go down to the wire, with the Spaniard set to face Jannik Sinner in Sunday's final.

Alcaraz, the number one seed, defeated Giulio Zeppieri over three sets in Saturday's semi-final – securing his 42nd win of the year. That is the joint-most victories in 2022 on the men's tour alongside Stefanos Tsitsipas, and extends his record in Umag to 8-0.

The 7-5 4-6 6-3 win sees Alcaraz reach an ATP Tour-leading sixth final in 2022 and will lift him to fourth in the world rankings ahead of Tsitsipas – a career high for the 19-year-old.

"It's amazing to be in a final here again. I enjoy playing here in Umag and I'm really happy with the win today," Alcaraz said in an on-court interview.

Alcaraz will bring up his first century of ATP matches when he tackles Italian Sinner.

"It would be amazing in my 100th match to get the win, and of course it is amazing to be number four on Monday," Alcaraz said. "It's something great for me, but right now I am just focused on the final."

Sinner, who beat Alcaraz at Wimbledon to set up a quarter-final against Novak Djokovic, saw off compatriot Franco Agamenone 6-1 6-3 in Saturday's other semi-final.

The 20-year-old Sinner is looking for his first title of 2022, having won at Antwerp, Sofia, Washington and Melbourne last year. He has reached the quarter-finals in two of the three grand slams played so far this year.

Roberto Bautista Agut beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas in straight sets to reach the Austrian Open final, but the Spaniard must wait until Saturday to discover his opponent.

Third seed Bautista Agut proved too strong for compatriot Ramos-Vinolas as he prevailed 6-3 7-6 (7-3) in a little over two hours, despite squandering three match points.

The world number 20 now can now look forward to a first clay-court final since suffering defeat to Matteo Berrettini at the 2018 Swiss Open Gstaad.

However, the other semi-final between Yannick Hanfmann and home wild card Filip Misolic was dramatically suspended in a third-set tie-break due to heavy rain.

Misolic, who had earlier beaten Dusan Lajovic in a clash delayed from Thursday, led 1-0 in the breaker against Hanfmann when play was halted and ultimately called off until Saturday.

The final between Bautista Agut and either Hanfmann or Misolic is still scheduled to go ahead as planned shortly after that second semi-final concludes.

At the Croatian Open, defending champion Carlos Alcaraz beat Facundo Bagnis 6-0 6-4 and will now face Giulio Zeppieri, who saw off Bernabe Zapata Miralles in straight sets.

Jannik Sinner is also through to his first semi-final of 2022 after beating Roberto Carballes Baena 6-4 7-6 (7-5), with Franco Agamenone up next after overcoming Marco Cecchinato.

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