• Thursday, July 25, 2024

Sport

Alcaraz beats buddy Tiafoe in 5-setter to reach Wimbledon Last 16

The Spanish, who is bidding to become only the sixth man to capture the French Open and Wimbledon titles back-to-back, has now reached the last 16 of a Slam for the 10th time.

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain plays a backhand against Frances Tiafoe of United States in his Gentlemen’s Singles third round match during day five of The Championships Wimbledon 2024 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London, England, on July 5, 2024. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

DEFENDING champion Carlos Alcaraz defeated close friend Frances Tiafoe in a roller-coaster five sets to reach the Wimbledon last 16 on Friday (5) as Jannik Sinner and Coco Gauff breezed through.

Alcaraz won 5-7, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 on the back of 16 aces in his 55 winners in a Centre Court thriller that stretched to the best part of four hours.

“Always a big challenge playing against Frances,” admitted Alcaraz, who was also pushed to five sets by the American in the semi-finals of the 2022 US Open on his way to a first Grand Slam title.

Read: Bopanna-Ebden move to Wimbledon 2024 doubles second round

“He is a really talented player, really tough to face.”

Alcaraz, who is bidding to become only the sixth man to capture the French Open and Wimbledon titles back-to-back, has now reached the last 16 of a Slam for the 10th time.

Alcaraz and Tiafoe exchanged a warm embrace at the net.

Read: Djokovic survives rookie scare to sail into Wimbledon Round 3

“Just ultimate respect. Him just saying, ‘It’s good to see you play like that.’ Me just saying, ‘I can’t stand you,” joked the American.

World number three Alcaraz will next take on either Ugo Humbert of France or Brandon Nakashima of the United States.

That match was one of four men’s third-round clashes that could not be completed due to heavy rain in London.

World number one Sinner needed just 96 minutes to defeat Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia 6-1, 6-4, 6-2.

Australian Open champion Sinner, a beaten semi-finalist at Wimbledon in 2023, will next face either Canada’s Denis Shapovalov or Ben Shelton of the United States.

The win was Sinner’s 41st this season, taking him past the 40 of Casper Ruud.

Women’s world number two Gauff ended the run of British qualifier Sonay Kartal, who had defied her humble ranking of 298 to reach the third round of a Slam for the first time.

Gauff won 6-4, 6-0, allowing her opponent just eight points in the second set.

– ‘Nice to me’ –

Despite the loss, Kartal, who had arrived at the All England Club with just over $18,500 from her 2024 efforts on court, will go away with a windfall of more than $182,000.

“This is my first time playing a British player here so I was little nervous because I knew you’d be for her, which is understandable,” said Gauff.

“Thankfully you guys were pretty nice to me so that helped.”

Gauff will face American compatriot Emma Navarro for a place in the quarter-finals.

Tommy Paul, the US men’s 12th seed, made the fourth round for second time with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win over Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan.

It was Paul’s eighth successive win on grass after he claimed the Queen’s Club title on the eve of Wimbledon.

“I’m having fun on the grass,” said Paul.

Grigor Dimitrov, who was a semi-finalist 10 years ago, defeated 37-year-old Gael Monfils in straight sets.

– ‘More sheep than people’ –

Two-time quarter-finalist Madison Keys, the 12th seed, reached the second week for the fifth time with a straight-sets win over Marta Kostyuk.

Keys goes on to face French Open runner-up Jasmine Paolini, who had never won a match at Wimbledon before this year.

Seventh-ranked Paolini saw off former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu in straight sets.

Lulu Sun became the first woman from New Zealand since 1959 to reach the last 16 with a straight-sets victory over China’s Zhu Lin.

Sun, 23, who had to come through qualifying to make her debut at the All England Club, won 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (8/6).

Sun, ranked 123, hopes her win will be headline news in Te Anau on New Zealand’s South Island where she was born.

The peaceful town boasts a population that hovers around the 3,000 mark.

“Practically more sheep and deer than people,” joked Sun.

She will next face Emma Raducanu, who reached the last 16 of a major for the first time since her 2021 US Open triumph.

The 21-year-old British star defeated ninth-ranked Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-2, 6-3 for only her second win over a top-10 player.

“Today was really up there with the most fun I’ve had on a tennis court,” said Raducanu.

Donna Vekic needed nine match points to defeat Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (3/7), 6-1 in a shade under three hours.

That match started on Court 18 but was completed under the roof of Court 1, a switch that delighted the 28-year-old Vekic, who next faces Spain’s Paula Badosa.

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