Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz stunned top seed Matteo Berrettini and then beat another Italian, Fabio Fognini, in the semifinals to reach his second career final after a marathon Saturday at the Rio Open.
With support from home fans in Rio de Janeiro, the 18-year-old Alcaraz won his quarterfinal clash against Berrettini 6-2, 2-6, 6-2 before returning to the court hours later for a 6-2, 7-5 win over Fognini to advance to Sunday's final against Argentina's Diego Schwartzman.
The quarterfinals and semifinals were played on Saturday due to heavy rain falling in Rio during the week.
“It means a lot to me,” said Alcaraz on making his first final since winning in Umag last year. “I surprised myself to be able to win two matches in a row in the same day. It’s tough to win one match, two is even tougher.”
After a dominant opening set, the Spaniard fell behind 1-4 in the second as Fognini grew in confidence and rode his momentum. Despite his youth, the 29th-ranked Alcaraz showed good experience and composure to retake control by pinning the Italian back with powerful hitting to take six of the next seven game and claim a deserved victory as the clock approached 1 a.m. in Rio.
Earlier, Schwartzman backed up a marathon 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4 win over Spain’s Pablo Andujar in the afternoon with a two-hour 7-6 (4), 6-3 win over countryman Francisco Cerundolo in the evening to reach the championship match, his second tour final in as many weeks.
The Argentine saved three set points before claiming the opening set in a tiebreaker the opening set paved the the way for a much-needed straight-set win.
“Unbelievable. The effort I did today with my team, not just me. Also Francisco, both of us, and now Fognini and Alcaraz,” Schwartzman said. “Yesterday we were here all day long. We went to the hotel at 10 p.m. yesterday, coming back in the morning today to play one match, now the other one. I don’t know how I did it, I really don’t understand how I did it, but I did.”
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