Alcaraz survives upset after beating Tiafoe in five-set thriller

5th July 2024

Alcaraz, still only 21, is chasing his fourth Grand Slam title.

Carlos Alcaraz. PHOTO| AFP
Carlos Alcaraz. PHOTO| AFP
  • Alcaraz had to come from a set down to win the epic match.
  • The Spaniard is looking to become just the sixth man to complete the French Open-Wimbledon double in the same season.
  • Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are the five players to win the French Open and Wimbledon back-to-back.

Defending champion Carlos Alcaraz defeated close friend Frances Tiafoe in a roller-coaster five sets to reach the Wimbledon last 16 on Friday as US Open winner Coco Gauff breezed through.

Alcaraz came through 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.

"He is a really talented player, really tough to face and he has shown again that he deserves to be at the top and fight for big things."

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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.

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

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.

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.

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"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.

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

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).

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Despite her lowly ranking of 123 in the world, Sun had knocked out Chinese eighth seed and Australian Open runner-up Zheng Qinwen in the first round.

Sun, who has a Chinese mother and Croatian father, hopes her win will be big news in the small town of 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, who next faces former US Open champion Emma Raducanu.

Later Friday, world number one Jannik Sinner, who needed four gruelling sets to defeat Italian compatriot Matteo Berrettini in the second round, turns his attention to Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia.

Australian Open champion Sinner was a beaten semi-finalist at Wimbledon in 2023.

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