Carlos Alcaraz reaches US Open quarterfinal with late-night win against Marin Cilic
By Jack O’Leary
Marin Cilic of Croatia takes a shot to break the tie with an all-court backhand down the line during his quarterfinal match with Mariano Zabaleta of Spain on day four of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York. Photo: Reuters/Lucas Jackson
There was a moment in the third set of the U.S. Open when Marin Cilic stared down the Spaniard Lucas Pouille. Cilic took a sip of water, looked at his opponent, the tournament, and turned to his coach.
“He said, ‘I’m not going to let the other guy get even the slightest bit past us, no matter what happens in the third set,’” Cilic recollected. “It was amazing. The other guy was not going to take a point.”
The second-seeded Pouille had defeated the defending U.S. Open champion Kevin Anderson to win his first Grand Slam title. Pouille, a Frenchman who had defeated Cilic in the quarterfinals of U.S. Open qualifying, was the favorite to advance, but he didn’t. For Cilic and Pouille to come away with something in the end required grit and determination, along with an ability to be patient.
When the final point was awarded that afternoon, Pouille walked off as if he had been hit. “I knew I had to be patient,” Cilic said. “I had to go back and have faith in myself, and I had to remember where my serve was, and I had to stay strong.”
Cilic’s patience paid off. He became the fifth-seeded man to reach the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open this month, and the first since Tomas Berdych in 2006.
The final round of the U.S. Open featured the same four players as the first two rounds: No. 1 Rafael Nadal, No. 2 Roger Federer, No. 3 Novak Djokovic, and No. 4 Andy Murray. Federer won his 13th Grand Slam title on Sunday. Murray, who has not lost a set in the first four rounds, saved two match points and defeated Marin Cilic, 7-6 (7-2), 6-7 (8-6), 6-3, 7-6 (