Sinner, Alcaraz eye Wimbledon semi-finals as Sun targets history

9th July 2024

Sinner will face Medvedev as Alacaraz faces Paul in the quarterfinals.

Carlos Alcaraz. PHOTO| AFP
Carlos Alcaraz. PHOTO| AFP
  • Defending champion Carlos Alcaraz faces Tommy Paul, the American 12th seed, hoping to reach a sixth Grand Slam semi-final.
  • Sinner takes on Daniil Medvedev having won the last five meetings between the pair.
  • Lulu Sun is bidding to become only the second Kiwi woman to reach a Slam semi-final after Belinda Cordwell at the 1989 Australian Open.

Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz will attempt to set up a blockbuster Wimbledon semi-final on Tuesday, confirming their status as the pathfinders of tennis' next generation.

Lulu Sun, the unheralded qualifier from a remote town in New Zealand, aims to become only the second woman from her country to reach a Grand Slam semi-final.

Sinner, Medvedev renew rollercoaster rivalry

World number one Jannik Sinner and fifth-ranked Daniil Medvedev have clashed 11 times and their head-to-head reflects the rise of the beanpole Italian.

Medvedev won all of the pair's first six meetings while Sinner has swept the past five.

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All have come on hard courts, including the Italian's fightback from two sets down to defeat Medvedev in January's Australian Open final, his first Grand Slam title.

Both men were losing semi-finalists at the All England Club in 2023.

"When Jannik came on tour, he hit strong from every position of the court, but he was missing a lot and losing matches," said Russia's Medvedev.

"Then he stopped missing less and now it's very tough to beat him. That's why he's number one in the world."

Sinner's vanquished last-16 opponent Ben Shelton was left in awe of the Italian's hitting power.

"The ball was moving so fast, I wasn't even seeing it," said the American.

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Alcaraz dreams of sporting double

Defending champion Carlos Alcaraz faces Tommy Paul, the American 12th seed, hoping to reach a sixth Grand Slam semi-final.

The 21-year-old will be desperate to have his Wimbledon business done and dusted in time to settle in front of a television to see Spain take on France in the Euro 2024 semi-finals in Germany.

Alcaraz is good friends with Spain captain Alvaro Morata.

"It's time to support them, as I know they are supporting me when I'm playing matches or I'm playing tournaments," said Alcaraz.

"Hopefully on Tuesday we are not going to play at the same time."

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Alcaraz is seeking to become just the sixth man to capture the French Open and Wimbledon titles back to back.

The 27-year-old Paul is in his first Wimbledon quarter-final but arrived at the tournament having won the Queen's title on grass.

He has also won two of his four meetings against Alcaraz.

Small town Sun in Grand Slam big time

Lulu Sun is the first New Zealand woman to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals and is bidding to become only the second Kiwi woman to reach a Slam semi-final after Belinda Cordwell at the 1989 Australian Open.

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Ranked at 123, Sun came through qualifying and has defeated eighth-ranked Australian Open runner-up Zheng Qinwen as well as 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu.

The 23-year-old left-hander, who hails from a small town on New Zealand's South Island, which she described as having "more sheep and deer than people",  has crunched 21 aces through four rounds.

And her all-or-nothing game has produced a tournament-leading 162 winners but also 131 unforced errors.

Sun's opponent Donna Vekic, a former top-20 player with four titles, is also in her first Wimbledon quarter-final but made the last eight at the 2019 US Open and 2023 Australian Open.

"I don't know a lot about her," said Vekic of Sun. "But no-one makes the quarter-finals of Wimbledon by accident."

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From nowhere to everywhere for Paolini

Until this year, Jasmine Paolini had never made it past the second round of a Grand Slam in 16 appearances.

That changed with a fourth-round run at the Australian Open followed by a runner-up finish to Iga Swiatek at Roland Garros.

Standing at just 1.63m (5ft 4ins), the seventh-ranked Italian, who plays Emma Navarro in the last eight, admits she has surprised herself.

"A part of me, I didn't really believe," said the 28-year-old after Madison Keys retired injured from their last-16 match.

"It's a little bit also strange to be in this position."

Navarro, the 17th-ranked American, is also breaking new ground as she prepares for her first Grand Slam quarter-final.

The 23-year-old New York-born player stunned world number two and US Open champion Coco Gauff in the fourth round.

Navarro has the upper hand on Paolini, defeating her three times in the past 10 months -- in San Diego, Doha and Miami.

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