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Carlos Alcaraz becomes youngest male grand slam quarter-finalist in 31 years

Carlos Alcaraz has become the youngest male quarter-finalist at the US Open since 1963.

The 18-year-old from Spain reached the final eight at Flushing Meadows by beating qualifier Peter Gojowczyk of Germany 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 6-0 on Sunday. Alcaraz also becomes the youngest men’s quarter-finalist at any grand slam tournament since Michael Chang, who was also 18 when he reached the last eight at the 1990 French Open.

Alcaraz, the world No 55, had upset the third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in his previous match. He will now play another young talent, 21-year-old Canadian Félix Auger-Aliassime, for a place in the semi-final. Auger-Aliassime beat American Frances Tiafoe in four sets on Sunday night.

“I’m super excited to be in my first second week in the grand slam, so it’s amazing for me. It’s a dream come true,” Alcaraz said after the match. “It’s really tough to play these kind of matches, to play fifth sets … I hope to play more second weeks, to play more quarter-finals of grand slams. I didn’t expect to play quarter-finals here. So I think it’s a really good performance from me in these matches.”

Fans have returned to Flushing Meadows this year after the tournament was played behind closed doors in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic. Alcaraz said their support was important to him.

“In the first sets I thought that I reached my limit, physically and mentally. I think the crowd was really, really important for me in this situation,” he said. “I felt the energy of the crowd pushing me up. I think without the crowd, it couldn’t be possible to be here.”

Alcaraz’s success is not a complete shock. He won his first ATP title in July when he beat Richard Gasquet in the final of the clay court Croatian Open. This year, he also reached the second round at the Australian Open and Wimbledon and the third round of the French Open.

Meanwhile, Dutch qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp booked his place in the quarter-finals with victory over Diego Schwartzman. The Dutchman had never previously been past the second round of a grand slam – and this year’s US Open is the first time he has even been to America.

“When I’m playing against guys who are better than me or better in general, my level is also increasing,” Van de Zandschulp said. “I prefer to play against better guys.”