Alcaraz beats Frances Tiafoe at the Santa Clara Tennis Center

Carlos Alcaraz defeats Frances Tiafoe at the US Open semifinals in a battle of tennis’ rising stars. SANTA CLARA, CA – JULY 01: Carlos Alcaraz of the United States plays against Frances Tiafoe of…

Alcaraz beats Frances Tiafoe at the Santa Clara Tennis Center

Carlos Alcaraz defeats Frances Tiafoe at the US Open semifinals in a battle of tennis’ rising stars.

SANTA CLARA, CA – JULY 01: Carlos Alcaraz of the United States plays against Frances Tiafoe of Canada during a tennis match at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center July 1, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images) Larry Busacca Getty

With two weeks before his major tournament showdown with world No. 1 Rafael Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz didn’t have to travel all the way to his hometown of San Jose to get an edge on the Spaniard. On the hardcourts of Silicon Valley, at the Santa Clara Tennis Center in Santa Clara, Calif. — the club of the world’s top-ranked players — the American tennis great is two-time defending US Open champion, and he said one big reason he beat his longtime Spanish counterpart was because he was playing at home, a place where he can relax and get away from his game’s constant grind.

“I love the place,” Alcaraz said. “I can go to the movies, the restaurant here. Whenever I’m playing a match here I can just go and enjoy the place. I like it.”

Despite their similar age (28), Alcaraz said he and Tiafoe were vastly different players. Alcaraz’s best surface on the year is clay at Stanford, where he won five titles. He also reached the finals of three hardpoint majors (Clayter, ITF, TTF), playing the last six matches on clay. Tiafoe, by contrast, is an all-time hardpoint champion, winning titles at Wimbledon, the French Open, and both Rogers Cup events. Though they faced each other only five times during their respective career spans, their most recent match came during the 2018 US Open, where Tiafoe stunned Alcaraz on clay in the second round. They’ve played a combined 1,005 singles matches — only the top two players — and have now moved to within three points of each other.

“When I beat him one

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