July 12th, 2024

Alcaraz holds off Humbert in 4 sets to reach Wimbledon quarterfinals

By Mattias Karen, The Associated Press on July 7, 2024.

Madison Keys of the United States reacts during her fourth round match against Jasmine Paolini of Italy at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, Sunday, July 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

LONDON (AP) – Defending Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz came up with the big shots when it mattered most to hold off Ugo Humbert and reach the quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 win on Centre Court on Sunday.

The match had seemed all but over when Alcaraz clinched the second set by chasing down several seemingly out-of-reach shots on set point, even falling over after hitting one forehand and quickly getting back up to get to the next ball.

Asked to describe his play on that point, Alcaraz just said: “Unbelievable, I guess.”

But Humbert nearly staged a surprising comeback and threatened to take the match into a fifth set when he held three straight break points for a 5-3 lead in the fourth.

Alcaraz came back to win that game with the help of a couple of aces, then broke for a 6-5 lead by hitting a deep forehand winner.

He set up match point with one of his delicate forehand drop shots and converted it with a service winner.

“I felt great playing today, I think I played at a really high level,” said Alcaraz, who will next play the winner between No. 12 Tommy Paul and Roberto Bautista Augut.

Earlier, French Open runner-up Jasmine Paolini reached her first Wimbledon quarterfinal when Madison Keys had to retire with a leg injury at 5-5 in the third set of their fourth-round match.

Keys had served for the match at 5-2 in the last set but then started limping more and more and needed a medical timeout to get her left leg worked on after Paolini made it 5-4. She had her left thigh taped as she served for the match for a second time but was broken again – double-faulting on break point – and was in tears by the end of that game, with her movement clearly restricted.

Keys tried to play on but the American finally went to the net to tell the chair umpire on No. 1 Court that she was retiring after Paolini hit an ace for 15-15 in the final game.

The Italian had won the first set 6-3, before Keys won the second 7-6 (6).

Keys had been two points from the win when the score was deuce at 5-2 in the third.

“I’m so sorry for her. To end the match like this, it’s bad,” Paolini said in her on-court interview. “What can I say? We played a really good match. It was really tough. A lot of ups and downs. I’m feeling a little bit happy, but also sad for her. It’s not easy to win like that.”

Paolini is the fifth Italian woman to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals in the professional era, and will try to become the first to make the semifinals. She will face the winner between No. 2 Coco Gauff and 19th-seeded Emma Navarro, who played later on Centre Court.

Keys, the 2017 U.S. Open runner-up, was trying to reach the last eight for the second year in a row at the All England Club, and third time overall. ___

AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis

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