World number two Carlos Alcaraz will face off against 10th-ranked Alexander Zverev in the quarter-final of the US Open on Wednesday. The winner of this match will move on to face either Daniil Medvedev or Andrey Rublev in the penultimate round of the competition. These two have met five times in the past, and Zverev leads the head-to-head standings 3-2 overall and 2-0 on the hard court. After beating Aleksander Vukic in round one, the German has been made to work for his place in the last 16. He was pushed to four sets against Daniel Altmaier and Grigor Dimitrov, but his most difficult assignment came against Jannik Sinner in the last round. His match against the Italian was the longest in the competition so far this year, but he managed to clinch a five-set win over the world number six. It is worth noting that Sinner was suffering from cramps in both legs through most of that match. Still, Zverev took the opportunity, and it will be interesting to see if he has managed to recover sufficiently to face the machine that is Alcaraz.
In contrast, Alcaraz was done with his round-four encounter in just two hours as he overpowered Matteo Arnaldi in straight sets. The Spaniard has only dropped one set in this tournament so far, which came against Dan Evans in the third round. While Alcaraz has lost twice on this surface to Zverev, both those matches came before he began shooting up the charts last season. The defending champion came into this competition after reaching the Cincinnati Masters finals, where he was beaten by Novak Djokovic. That was his eighth final appearance of the year, and he has won six of those matches, though only one was on the hard surface. The 20-year-old is 57-6 for the year and 20-3 on the hardcourt. This is his biggest challenge of his title defence, and he comes into it as the overwhelming favourite according to the bookies.
Alcaraz has been incredible this season, and it is difficult to back against him going on to defend his title in the final. However, Zverev is a fighter and will not give his spot up easily. We can see this going beyond three sets. Our Carlos Alcaraz vs Alexander Zverev prediction: Alexander Zverev to win a set.