Frances Tiafoe vs. Carlos Alcaraz: The battle of tennis’ rising stars

Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are unquestionably the three best gamers of all time — whichever order you could have them in is down to non-public desire — and their inevitable departures from the Tour will depart a gap no participant will be capable to fill.
Nonetheless, the rise of kids reminiscent of Daniil Medvedev, Alex Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas lately has supplied sufficient proof to counsel that there will probably be no lack of leisure and drama as soon as the ‘Huge Three’ do lastly resolve to name it quits.
This season, followers have seen one other future famous person in Carlos Alcaraz emerge, whereas Frances Tiafoe, now 24 years outdated, has lastly come of age on the US Open and earned the breakthrough at a grand slam that many have predicting for a few years now.

Hailing from the area of Murcia in Spain and being a clay court docket specialist, Alcaraz has naturally drawn comparisons to his compatriot and idol Nadal.

However whereas the 19-year-old has immense respect for the participant he has regarded as much as throughout his childhood, Alcaraz has no need to be dubbed “the next Nadal” or “mini Nadal,” as has occurred on multiple event throughout his fledgling profession.

As a substitute, as he instructed CNN Sport again in March, he needs to carve out his personal legacy and be recognized solely as Alcaraz.
READ: Carlos Alcaraz reaches first grand slam semifinal after marathon, late-night end in opposition to Jannik Sinner

He has actually gone a great distance in the direction of attaining that already.

After successful his maiden ATP title in 2021, Alcaraz has flourished additional in 2022, successful 4 titles — together with two Masters 1000 tournaments — to stand up the rankings to No. 4 on the planet.

“I mean, everything came so fast, two Masters 1000 titles — one on hard court, one on clay court,” he instructed CNN’s Don Riddell in Could.

“So if at the beginning of the season, someone told me that I’m going to achieve these tournaments — Barcelona as well — I didn’t believe it, I didn’t believe him. For me, I don’t know what to say about an unbelievable month for me.

“It is good that everybody’s speaking about you and goes to look at your match. For me, it is fairly good. However it provides me numerous energy to play in the most effective stadiums in opposition to the most effective gamers on the planet. So for me, it is fairly cool.”

He went into this year’s French Open in sensational form and was tipped by many to be among the favorites to win but lost in the quarterfinals to Zverev.

Now, in New York, he has reached the semifinals of a grand slam for the first time and as the highest ranked man left in the draw will be the favorite to claim the first major title of his career.

“I really feel nice to be in my first semifinal in a grand slam,” Alcaraz said after his epic five-set victory over Janek Sinner. “I really feel higher reaching the semifinal right here in US Open … This event is wonderful. The crowd is wonderful, I’d say the most effective on the planet. I imply, the vitality that I obtain on this court docket at 3 a.m., it was unbelievable.”

‘Cinderella story’

Tiafoe, five years Alcaraz’s senior, won his maiden ATP title back in 2018 and many believed it would be a win that would spark a rapid rise to the top.

Though still touted as a rising star, that rise has been steady rather than meteoric. Last month, Tiafoe reached a career-high of No. 24 in the world — he’s currently 26th — and this year has shown flashes of the quality that many predicted would take him to the top.

But make no mistake, given Tiafoe’s disappointing form coming into the US Open, there was no indication that he would make a deep run in New York. However, the big-hitting Washington, D.C. native has mentioned on more than one occasion how the home support on Arthur Ashe has spurred him on to new heights.

In winning his quarterfinal, Tiafoe became the first Black American man to reach a US Open semifinal since Ashe in 1972.

His father, Constant Tiafoe, started working at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in Washington back in 1999 and eventually moved into one of its vacant storage rooms while working around the clock.

READ: How Frances Tiafoe went from sleeping at a tennis center to the US Open semifinals
Frances Tiafoe is appearing in his first grand slam semifinal.

His two twin boys, Frances and Franklin, would sometimes stay with him, sleeping on a massage table, while their mother worked night shifts as a nurse.

The unusual gateway into the sport gave Tiafoe an opportunity to start developing his skills and, after beginning to train at the facility, he didn’t look back.

“Clearly, I wasn’t the rich child or wasn’t having all the brand new stuff or no matter. However I used to be simply dwelling life. I may play tennis totally free, the game I cherished,” he told CNN Sport back in 2015, adding that he wouldn’t change his upbringing for the world.

He was asked Wednesday what message people should draw from his story.

“I imply, anyone can do it, truthfully,” he said, adding that his passion and obsession is tennis. “Clearly, that is a cliché, however I believe in case you are actually keen about one thing… Everyone’s received a present.”

Now, with Alcaraz having expended so much energy, it presents a golden opportunity for the American to continue his run and he will certainly have the support of the home crowd.

“That stuff will get me emotional, for positive. Seeing folks screaming your identify, simply loving what you are doing. That is superior. That is what it is all about,” Tiafoe told reporters after the match.

“You already know, everybody loves a Cinderella story. [I’m] simply making an attempt to make one.”