• Sunday, July 14, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Alcaraz survives Wimbledon test, Rybakina cruises

Alcaraz is seen as the biggest threat to Novak Djokovic

Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz in action during his third round match against Chile’s Nicolas Jarry REUTERS/Toby Melville

By: Pramod Thomas

CARLOS ALCARAZ reached the last 16 at Wimbledon on Saturday (8) after a tough battle against Nicolas Jarry as defending women’s champion Elena Rybakina snuffed out the hopes of Britain’s final hope Katie Boulter.

Rain returned to the All England Club, meaning play on Centre Court started under the roof and later forced an early end to the action on the outside courts.

Top seed Alcaraz is seen as the biggest threat to Novak Djokovic, who is gunning for a record-equalling eighth men’s title and 24th Grand Slam crown overall.

But the Spaniard, who won the grass-court Queen’s tournament last month, was made to work hard for the win by his Chilean opponent, seeded 25th, before prevailing 6-3, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3, 7-5.

Alcaraz bounced back from losing his first set of the tournament to lead 2-1 but narrowly avoided going a double break down in the fourth set before rediscovering his mojo.

“I’m really happy with the level that I played to get through this really tough match,” said the relieved 20-year-old.

The US Open champion was playing his second match in two days after rain delays earlier in the week.

Djokovic, by contrast, moved serenely into the last 16 late on Friday (7), beating Stan Wawrinka in straight sets.

Alcaraz will face big-serving Matteo Berrettini in the fourth round after the 2021 runner-up beat Alexander Zverev 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/5).

Unseeded Berrettini feels he has a point to prove after missing last year’s tournament due to a bout of Covid.

“I love to play here,” said the Italian. “Last year I missed it and I still didn’t heal from that withdrawal. This tournament changed my career, my life and I’m really happy.”
Last year’s surprise women’s champion Rybakina made short work of wild card Boulter, who was the only British player left in the tournament, romping to a 6-1, 6-1 win in just 57 minutes.

The Kazakh third seed had not previously hit her best form at Wimbledon but 89th-ranked Boulter had no answer to her opponent’s superior power.

Rybakina fired seven aces in her 20 winners, breaking her opponent five times.

Last year’s beaten finalist Ons Jabeur also progressed, thanking the rain for the part it played in her victory, interrupting the deciding set.

The Tunisian sixth seed lost the first set but battled back to beat Bianca Andreescu 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 and set up a last-16 clash with two-time champion Petra Kvitova.

“I’ve got to thank the rain a little bit for letting me speak to my coach and have a bit of perspective about the match,” she said. “I felt like I didn’t play my best tennis.”

Kvitova stayed on track for a third title by beating Serbian qualifier Natalija Stevanovic 6-3, 7-5 while Australian Open champion and second seed Aryna Sabalenka saw off Russia’s Anna Blinkova.

Men’s third seed Daniil Medvedev lost the first set against close friend Marton Fucsovics but recovered to win in four sets.

Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Andy Murray in a five-set thriller over two days in the second round, eased past Serbia’s Laslo Djere in straight sets.

(AFP)

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