Steely Alcaraz repels Paul for Wimbledon SF spot

  • Posted: Jul 09, 2024

Carlos Alcaraz is digging deep in defence of his Wimbledon crown.

The Spaniard rallied to a 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 triumph against the in-form Tommy Paul on Tuesday to book a semi-final spot at the grass-court major. For the third consecutive match, Alcaraz’s resolve was given a stern test by his opponent, but the 21-year-old third seed kept his cool to seal a three-hour, 11-minute comeback victory on Centre Court.

“He has been playing great tennis on grass. He won Queen’s and has been doing great stuff here at Wimbledon, beating great players,” said Alcaraz of Paul in his on-court interview. “Of course today was a really difficult match for me.

“At the beginning, the first set and the beginning of the second set, it kind of felt like I was playing on clay. Big rallies, 10 to 15 shots every point. So I had to stay strong mentally when I lost the first set. It was difficult for me a little bit, but I knew it was a long journey, a long match, and I just had to stay there. I’m really happy to find the solutions and the good path.”

Paul, the No. 13 in the PIF ATP Rankings, laid the foundations for an upset after he took the opening set and opened a 2-0 lead in the second. However, that was as good as it got for the American, whose hopes of extending his 10th consecutive win were dashed by Alcaraz’s ability to carve out opportunities on return.

Alcaraz broke Paul’s serve seven times across the second, third and fourth sets to secure a 3-2 lead in the pair’s Lexus ATP Head2Head series. The three-time major winner, who converted eight of 27 break points he earned overall, will now prepare for a semi-final rematch against Daniil Medvedev, who earlier beat World No. 1 Jannik Sinner 6-7(7), 6-4, 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-3.

A year ago, Alcaraz dispatched Medvedev for the loss of just nine games in the last four at the All England Club, and he has certainly been made to earn the right to try and repeat that result this year. After beginning his title defence with a pair of straight-sets victories, the Spaniard battled past Frances Tiafoe in five sets in the third round before being taken to four by Ugo Humbert and Paul in the fourth round and quarter-finals, respectively.

“I believe that I can come back,” said Alcaraz, when asked how he works through difficult moments on court. “If I am struggling a little bit, I try to find the solutions if the opponent is playing great tennis. I believe that at the end I will be able to come back and find solutions, the good rhythm. Today’s match is an example. Even here at the Grand Slams, where the matches are longer, I have more time to come back, so I believe in myself the whole time.”

It will be the fourth Grand Slam meeting between Alcaraz and Medvedev. The World No. 5 Medvedev will hope to channel his triumphs at Wimbledon in 2021 and the 2023 US Open as he attempts to avenge his heavy loss on Centre Court from a year ago.

“He’s a really great player. The same semi-final as last year and hopefully I’m going to get the same result,” said Alcaraz, when asked about the Medvedev rematch. “He just beat Jannik Sinner, the best player right now, so I know he is in really good shape. I have to play my best, I have to believe in myself and try to keep going if I want to beat him. It is going to be a difficult one, but I’m going to enjoy it.”


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