Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz came to New York as the leaders of the ATP Race. Also, two Spaniards were among five players who could take the ATP throne after the US Open. The defending champion Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas are out of that battle, while Nadal leads it ahead of the semi-final.
Still, it's not in Rafa's hands following the fourth-round loss to Frances Tiafoe. The legend failed to earn valuable points for a place in the quarter-final, leaving the door opened for Alcaraz and Casper Ruud to pass him and take the throne on Monday.
If Carlos or Casper wins the semi-final encounter, Nadal will miss a chance to become world no. 1 for the first time since February 2020. Despite that, Nadal wished Carlos all the best, cheering for him as the last remaining Spaniard in the draw.
Nadal and Alcaraz met twice in the first part of the season. The more experienced player prevailed after an epic Indian Wells semi-final battle, while the youngster avenged it in front of the home fans in Madrid. If he beats Frances Tiafoe in Friday's semi-final, Carlos will pass Rafa and become the Spanish no.
1 for the first time in a career. Super talented youngster needed only a couple of years to leave behind almost every rival on the ATP ranking list and join the world's best players well before turning 20.
Rafael Nadal gives support to his younger compatriot.
Alcaraz is through into his first Major semi-final at the US Open.
Carlos faced an ultimate challenge in the quarter-final, with Jannik Sinner pushing him to the limits. After five hours and 15 minutes, the Spaniard prevailed 6-3, 6-7, 6-7, 7-5, 6-3 to remain on the title course. Carlos fended off a match point in the fourth set's tenth game and performed a notable comeback in one of the career-best victories.
If Alcaraz beats Frances Tiafoe and Karen Khachanov tops Casper Ruud, the Spaniard will become the first teenager as world no. 1. "I have not seen any of Carlos' matches. He is in the fourth round, and he must be playing well.
He is chasing his first Major crown and world no. 1 spot following a fantastic season. Carlos is the last Spaniard left in the draw, and I wish him all the best," Rafael Nadal said.