Thursday, July 25, 2024

Carlos Alcaraz bounces back from slow start to reach Wimbledon semi-finals

Must read

Carlos Alcaraz recovered from a poor start to roar back to down Tommy Paul in four sets and move two wins away from claiming back-to-back Wimbledon titles.

World number 13 Paul entered this quarter-final on a nine-match winning streak and after he had taken the Queen’s Club crown from Alcaraz last month.

It translated into an exceptional start on Court One with Paul able to take the opener and register an early break in the second set before three-time grand slam champion Alcaraz fought back in trademark fashion.

Alcaraz got his serve back on track and smashed his way through to the last four at the All England Club with 36 winners helping clinch a 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-2 victory.

But he will not face rival Jannik Sinner next after Daniil Medvedev beat the Italian to set up a repeat of the last year’s semi-final.

“If I am struggling a little bit to find solution, if the opponent is playing great tennis, I believe at the end I’ll be able to come back and find solutions,” Alcaraz said.

“Here, in the grand slams, the matches are longer so I have more time to recover and come back. I believe myself all the time.”

Carlos Alcaraz slides to hit the ball (Aaron Chown/PA)

Paul had hoped his maiden Wimbledon quarter-final would be on Centre Court, but had to settle for its sister venue with the roof once again shut due to more wet weather.

The form of the American and his 2-2 record with Alcaraz increased the anticipation around this clash, which started with the three-time grand slam champion being unable to convert three break points.

A booming forehand by Alcaraz in Paul’s next service game did move him ahead, but the pattern of the match was set when the 12th seed was able to break back immediately.

Soon after an extraordinary sixth game occurred, which contained four break points for Paul, nine deuces and lasted more than 18 minutes, but Alcaraz scrambled to another hold.

Tommy Paul jumps to hit a backhand
Tommy Paul put up a fight (Aaron Chown/PA)

Further opportunities followed on each serve and when a tie-break seemed inevitable, Paul sensed his moment to land the first punch of this match-up with a powerful backhand earning a 72-minute first set.

Alcaraz had made slow starts in his first three matches at the Championships and was broken five times in his fourth-round success over Ugo Humbert.

And he continued to struggle at the start of the second set, with Paul able to win eight of the first nine points to break, with an untimely Alcaraz double fault thrown in.

However, the Spaniard showed the response of a champion with a pair of destructive forehands helping him get the set back on serve.

A first ace of the match for Alcaraz, clocked at 130mph, was backed up by two more in a row before Paul sent his forehand long in the next game to be broken to go 4-3 down.

Alcaraz had flipped the momentum and another ace followed before the world number three levelled up.

With rival Sinner starring down the barrel on Centre Court, Alcaraz broke at the start of the third, but instantly relinquished the upperhand when he again dropped serve.

Carlos Alcaraz (right) shakes hands with Tommy Paul (left)
Carlos Alcaraz (right) shakes hands with Tommy Paul (left) (Aaron Chown/PA)

Paul had produced an exceptionally high level during the first two sets and yet his radar started to lack direction, especially with his backhand.

He was broken again and while he pushed Alcaraz hard in the sixth game with two break points forced, the 21-year-old saved them to close out the third set.

Alcaraz went up a notch again in the fourth, breaking twice before his seventh ace set up match point and it was sealed at the first time of asking after three hours and 11 minutes.

Latest article