Spanish teen Carlos Alcaraz, the youngest US Open quarter-finalist in 58 years, was forced to retire from his match on Tuesday with a right adductor injury.
Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime led 6-3, 3-1 when 18-year-old Alcaraz retired from the match, sending his 21-year-old rival into his first Grand Slam semi-final against Russian second seed Daniil Medvedev.
“It’s really tough to end a great tournament like this,” Alcaraz said. “I had no choice to still play. I have to take care of my body and to stay healthy. I didn’t feel good to still play.”
World No. 55 Alcaraz, who ousted third-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in the third round, could have become the youngest US Open men’s semi-finalist since 1960 and the youngest in any Slam since 17-year-old Michael Chang won the 1989 French Open.
He also would have been the first man to reach the US Open semi-finals in his debut since Eric Sturgess in 1948.
The right-thigh issue came after back-to-back five-set matches.
“Before match I felt it,” he said. “I start the match controlling the pain. In the beginning of the second set it started to [increase] the pain.”
Alcaraz was the youngest US Open quarter-finalist since 1963 and made his deepest Slam run.
“These matches gave me a lot of experience. This tournament meant to me a lot,” Alcaraz said. “I played great. I’m really happy to play the quarter-final. This tournament is a great spring for me into other tournaments.”
Auger-Aliassime and Alcaraz had the youngest combined ages of any US Open quarter-final or later match since Australian Pat Cash (19) met Sweden’s Mats Wilander (20) in a 1984 quarter-final.
“It’s unfortunate,” 12th seed Auger-Aliassime said. “What he has done here hasn’t been done in the Open era. He should be proud of himself with head held high.”
Medvedev advanced to his third straight US Open semi-final, while Canadian 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez delivered another stunner to reach the last four in the women’s singles.
Russian second seed Medvedev, chasing his first Grand Slam title, eliminated 117th-ranked Dutch qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp 6-3, 6-0, 4-6, 7-5 at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“I just want to do a little bit better than the last two times and get this extra step, which is the toughest one, actually,” Medvedev said.
Fernandez, who had already ousted defending champion Naomi Osaka and three-time Slam winner Angelique Kerber, defeated Ukraine’s fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7/5).
“I told myself to trust my shots,” Fernandez said. “Even if I lose, I’ve got to go for it. And I’m glad I did.”
Fernandez, ranked 73rd, was inspired by pre-match strategy from her father and coach Jorge Fernandez, a former Ecuadoran soccer player.
“He told me to go out and have fun, fight for every point,” she said. “It’s your first Grand Slam quarter-final. Don’t make it your last. Don’t make it your last match over here. Fight for your dream.”
“I obviously have no idea what I’m feeling right now,” said Fernandez, a left-hander with quick baseline reflexes who is ranked 73rd and participating in only the seventh major tournament of her nascent career. “I was so nervous. I was trying to do what my coach told me to do.”
Fernandez raised a fist high above her head or wind-milled both arms after winning a key point.
“Thanks to you, I was able to push through today,” she told the crowd after edging Svitolina, the Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist whose two Grand Slam semi-final runs include at the 2019 US Open.
Five times, Fernandez was two points from winning, but failed to collect the next point.
Finally, at 5-5 in the tiebreaker, she moved to match point and smacked a down-the-line passing shot that got past Svitolina with the help of a bounce off the net tape.
Fernandez put up both palms, as if to say: “Sorry about that bit of luck,” while Svitolina put a hand to her mouth in dismay.
Svitolina’s backhand contributed to her undoing late and when a return from that side landed long, it was over.
Fernandez dropped to her knees at the baseline and covered her face, while Svitolina walked around the net to come over for a hug.
Next on this magical ride for Fernandez is yet another test against a player who is ranked higher and has more experience success on the sport’s biggest stages.
She is to play No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka, who bulldozed her way past Barbora Krejcikova 6-1, 6-4.
In the quarter-finals of the women’s doubles, Australia’s Sam Stosur and Zhang Shuai of China defeated Australia’s Storm Sanders and Caroline Dolehide of the US 6-2, 6-3.
Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei was to play after press time last night, with her and partner Elise Mertens of Belgium to face Caty McNally and Coco Gauff of the US in the quarters.
Additional reporting by Reuters and staff writer
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