U.S. Open Day 12 tennis predictions, picks and best bets: Frances Tiafoe can take out Carlos Alcaraz
If you are one of those people who only watches tennis for the Big 3 (Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer), this U.S. Open men’s semifinal lineup is not for you. If you are an out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new kind of person, this tournament is exactly what you have been waiting for. Casper Ruud, Karen Khachanov, Carlos Alcaraz and Frances Tiafoe are the last four players left standing. None has ever won a Grand Slam title and only one (Ruud) has been to a slam final (2022 French Open).
Both the relative inexperience of the players combined with some crazy happenings earlier in the tournament admittedly make the two semifinal matches difficult to handicap. But let’s give it our best shot.
My best bets record stands at 18-12-1 through 11 days.
Parlay: Karen Khachanov +2.5 sets over Casper Ruud and Frances Tiafoe +2.5 sets over Carlos Alcaraz (-137)
I don’t love any market for Friday’s first semifinal between Ruud and Khachanov, but you can at least feel good about Khachanov taking a set. That wouldn’t be a safe bet if this was being played on clay (Ruud’s speciality), but on a relatively fast hard court it should be a different story. It would not be shocking at all to see Khachanov pull off an outright upset, so I would not be opposed to sprinkling some on the +3.5 game spread or even on the +170 money line. Still, I was hoping the Russian would be an even bigger underdog. Alas, he is not; oddsmakers are well aware of how well he is playing. The world No. 31 is coming off back-to-back wins over two-time U.S. Open semifinalist Pablo Carreno Busta and Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios. The fact that he has played 10 sets in the last two rounds is another reason why I’m not going all in on Khachanov. I think Ruud has an advantage in a long match. If we only need one set, though, we are likely in good shape.
Frances Tiafoe ML over Carlos Alcaraz (+170)
Tiafoe should also have no trouble taking a set, so I’m throwing that into the above parlay and also going even bigger. The 24-year-old American has a great chance to win the match outright. All things being equal, Alcaraz — ranked No. 4 — is obviously the better player with more experience at the business end of big tournaments (even though he is only 19!). However, all things are not equal. The Spaniard is coming off back-to-back five-setters, both of which ended after 2:00 am and the second of which lasted five hours and 15 minutes. That was against Jannik Sinner, whom Alcaraz finally overcame at 2:50 am. His sleeping cycle has undoubtedly been terrible the last few days, and even if you don’t take that into account he has spent nine hours and nine minutes on the court in the last two rounds. Unless Alcaraz is superhuman (which he might be!), he isn’t going to be 100 percent on Friday night.
Can Tiafoe capitalize? Absolutely. The 22nd seed is enjoying incredible crowd support in New York and he is giving the fans exactly what they want. He upset Nadal in the fourth round and then blitzed world No. 11 Andrey Rublev in straight sets in the quarterfinals. It’s also worth noting that Tiafoe is 1-0 in the head-to-head series with Alcaraz. Sound the upset alert.