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Tennis: US Open men's semi-finals preview

It's men's semi-finals time at the US Open and for three of the four players left standing, it's the first time they have ever reached this stage of a grand slam.

We knew before the quarter-finals that there was going to be a first-time grand slam winner at Flushing Meadows this year.

Carlos Alcaraz, the third seed, is seen as the most likely champion at 1/1 but he knows he'll have the crowd against him as he takes on American Francis Tiafoe in their semi.

Casper Ruud, 13/5 to lift the trophy, has at least been here before – he made the French Open final in June – which may give him the extra nous to be able to see off Russia's Karen Khachanov.

Can ironman Carlos calm crowds?


Carlos Alcaraz v Frances Tiafoe, US Open men's semi-finals


YUSTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Flushing Meadows, New York


From 19:00, Friday 9th September, 2022

How to watch

Amazon Prime


Carlos Alcaraz 8/15, Frances Tiafoe 6/4

Carlos Alcaraz is making history at the US Open but it will count for nothing if he doesn't see off Frances Tiafoe and go on to win the final at the weekend.

The Spanish teenager, a 8/15 shot to beat the American on Arthur Ashe court, became the youngest men's singles semi-finalist at Flushing Meadows for over two decades after outlasting Jannik Sinner in an epic on Thursday morning.

The question is, how much has that five-set, five-and-a-quarter hour blockbuster taken out of the 19-year-old?

When Alcaraz finally clinched match point against Sinner it was ten minutes shy of 3am local-time, the latest ever finish at the tournament, and the Spanish ace admitted he had nothing left in the tank.

It was also his second successive five-setter having been taken the distance by Marin Cilic in the fourth round, all of which will be music to the ears of Tiafoe.

Tiafoe thriving at new level

Tiafoe, the 24-year-old American, had only ever reached one grand slam quarter-final in 25 previous attempts and that was back in 2019, but he has had relatively serene progress to the semis.

That's even more impressive when you consider that three of his opponents have been ranked higher than him and one was Rafael Nadal. Yet Tiafoe has won four of his five matches in straight sets with only Nadal delaying him further – he saw off the Spanish great in four.

As the first American to reach the men's singles semis since Andy Roddick in 2006 the pressure of a partisan home crowd will be on his shoulders, though he has coped admirably so far.

He also knows he can beat Alcaraz. Tiafoe was a straight-sets winner in their only previous meeting, on the clay in Barcelona last year.

Tiafoe will pile up the aces and has the power game to reel off a string of service games; Alcaraz's all-court, scampering game makes him better to watch and harder to put away. You can't help but get the sense – especially given what has happened to the Spaniard already – that this could run – and run – and run.

Over 39.5 games – Alcaraz's last two matches have yielded 48 and 56 respectively – looks a must-bet at 5/6 while another five-set match is a 5/2 chance.

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Ruud awakening for Khachanov?


Karen Khachanov v Casper Ruud, US Open men's semi-finals


YUSTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Flushing Meadows, New York


From 19:00, Friday 9th September, 2022

How to watch

Amazon Prime


Karen Khachanov 6/4, Casper Ruud 8/15

The third grand-slam semi-final novice is Karen Khachanov, the 26-year-old former Wimbledon quarter-finalist, who had never gone beyond round three in six previous visits to New York.

This year, however, it's all clicked, though it hasn't been straightforward with a pair of four-set matches to start and he went the distance seeing off first Pablo Carreno-Busta and then Nick Kyrgios.

He's 6/4 to beat 8/15 shot Casper Ruud, who hit eyebrow-raising heights in his 6-1 6-4 7-6 dismantling of Matteo Berrettini in the quarters, though the Italian did throw in a stinker.

The 23-year-old Norwegian has had a fabulous 2022 reaching five finals, including the French Open where he couldn't lay a glove on an inspired Nadal – though few have in Paris over the years. Ruud's three title successes have all come on clay.

Again, Khachanov against Ruud is a battle of the big server – the Russian bombed 30 aces versus Kyrgios – and a more organised all-rounder.

Ruud won their one previous meeting, though that was over two years ago, and the formbook suggests he should get up again. A 3-1 Ruud win is 3/1.

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