Marin Cilic, the best clay-court player in the world, is back in the tournament

Carlos Alcaraz reaches US Open quarterfinal with late-night win against Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic reached his first major quarterfinal in four years, but no sooner had he finished his second set, with a tie-break victory over Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, than he was up and out of his chair, screaming as he charged down the court. He had just beaten Carlos Alcaraz in an epic final.

Cilic is just an hour and a bit into the early evening, but he might not want to miss this one. He had been the tournament’s favorite for almost two months, from the moment he and Alcaraz went at it. He lost in the second round of the Barcelona Open to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Then he took out Alvaro Boenish, who played him in the Rome Masters final. Boenish, who has won his last four matches on clay this year, was at the summit of the clay-court season. He was the new king of the clay. He had won seven of his last eight tournaments in the open era.

That was until Alcaraz came along, not just the world No. 1 player but the best clay-court player in the world at the time. Cilic had been beaten by Verdasco in the first round of the Rome final, and he had gone on to lose in the second round of the Madrid Open to Fernando Verdasco. He had come back to take out No. 10 seed and defending champion Juan Martin del Potro in the Madrid final. But something had snapped in Alcaraz, and he was back to his old form from that summer, winning almost everything.

Del Potro, who had won the Madrid Open final when he was world No. 3, fell in the quarterfinals, but just lost to Ivan Dodig in the next round. He was seeded seventh. This was his best run in a major. He won his first major in Rome, then in the

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