ATP: Carlos Alcaraz tops Frances Tiafoe in 5-set Wimbledon battle

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Defending champion Carlos Alcaraz clawed back from the brink of elimination at Wimbledon on Friday, defeating Frances Tiafoe 5-7, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2 to move to the fourth round at the All England Club.

A packed house that included Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes was treated to a three-hour, 50-minute battle. No. 29 seed Tiafoe of the United States had victory in his grasp but couldn’t pull out the win against the third-seeded Spaniard.

Tiafoe, looking for revenge after Alcaraz defeated him in five sets in the semifinals at the U.S. Open in 2022, played nearly flawlessly in the first four sets. But Alcaraz found another gear in the tiebreaker, playing aggressive defense against Tiafoe and grabbing points on his opponent’s first two serves to race to a 3-0 lead.

He took the next two points for a commanding 5-0 lead, cruised through the tiebreaker and kept the momentum to easily win the final set and advance.

With the win, Alcaraz moved to 12-1 in fifth sets at majors. He defeated Novak Djokovic, winner of 24 majors, last year to win Wimbledon.

Alcaraz said Tiafoe was a very tough foe on Friday.

“It is always a big challenge playing against Frances,” Alcaraz said. “He is a really talented player and tough to face, and we saw it once again that he deserves to be at the top and deserves to fight for big things. It was really difficult for me to adapt my game, find solutions and try to put him in trouble, but I am really happy to do it at the end of the match.

“There were a lot of difficult moments in the fourth set. All I was thinking was ‘OK, fight one more ball.’ I was just thinking about the next ball and the tiebreak. I told myself I had to go for it. If I lose it, I lose it. I went for it all the time and it is good for myself to get through once again.”

Alcaraz and Tiafoe had the advantage of playing under the roof at Centre Court in rainy London, where the bulk of early matches were suspended because of weather.

No. 10 seed Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria defeated Gael Monfils of France 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 under the cover of Court 1, while No. 12 Tommy Paul ousted No. 23 Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to move to the fourth round before rain suspended play.

The only other men’s match to be completed Friday saw No. 1 seed Jannik Sinner of Italy defeat Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 under a closed roof at Centre Court.

Sinner fired off 11 aces and won 36 of his 42 first-service points (85.7 percent). He saved the only break point he faced.

“Me and my team are working very hard to be in this position,” said Sinner, who won the Australian Open in January and seeks his second career Grand Slam title. “My game has improved but we still keep making sacrifices to improve more. I feel the combination with me and my team, we try to get better each day as a player and a person.”

Sinner’s fourth-round opponent will be either No. 14 seed Ben Shelton or Canadian Denis Shapovalov. Their match just started Friday before inclement weather postponed it until Saturday, with Shelton up 3-2 in the first set.

–Field Level Media

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