Wimbledon | Alcaraz overcomes blip to roar past Paul

Defending Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz battled from a set and a break down to defeat Tommy Paul 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-2 to ensure a repeat of last year’s semi-final against Daniil Medvedev.

I believe in myself the whole time Carlos Alcaraz

And the third seed never had a moment’s doubt he would prevail, declaring: “I believe in myself the whole time.”

The 21-year-old Spaniard, finished his match in time to watching Spain’s footballers in their 2024 Euro last-four showdown with France, said: “If I’m struggling a little bit to find the solutions if the opponent is playing great tennis, I believe at the end that I’ll be able to come back and be able to find solutions. Even here in the Grand Slams, the matches are longer. I have more (time) to recover, to be back, so I believe in myself the whole time.”

Alcaraz praised American 13th seed Paul following their three-hour, 1-minute encounter on No.1 Court.

He said: “Tommy has been playing great tennis here on grass. He won Queens. I think he has been doing great stuff here in Wimbledon, beating great players, and of course today was a really difficult, difficult match for me.

“In the first set and the beginning of the second set, it was kind of like I’m playing on clay. Big rallies and over 10, 15 shots every point so I had to stay strong mentally.

“When I lost the first set it was kind of difficult for me a little, but I knew it’s a really long journey, really long match so I had to stay there and I’m really happy to find the solutions and find the good path.”

On his return date with Medvedev, Alcaraz said: “He’s a really great player. It’s the same semi-final as last year. Hopefully I’m going to get the same result.

“He just won against Jannik Sinner, the best player right now, so I know that he’s in really good shape, so I have to play my best, I have to believe in myself and try to keep going if I want to beat him so it’s going to be a difficult one but I’m going to enjoy.”


Carlos Alcaraz gets down low

(Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Alcaraz emerged from the changing room minus his usual smile. All business. Paul represented formidable opposition having been on a winning streak of nine games, claiming the coveted Queen’s trophy on route.

It seemed as if Alcaraz would get a flying start in the opening game as he earned four break points. But Paul, wearing a cool demeanour as well as a white baseball cap back to front, held his nerve to save it.

Alcaraz, though, managed to break the American in Paul’s next service game. Yet it was proving a hard slog for the champion as Paul broke back and matched the title-holder from the back of the court with his movement and ball striking in extended rallies, while getting into the net when the opportunity arose.

Alcaraz has already won three Grand Slams on three different surfaces at the age of 21, but the chap across the net clearly had no intention of bowing at his feet.

And, with the set seemingly drifting into a tie-break, Paul broke the Spaniard to take it after a marathon 73-minutes.

The American maintained his momentum by breaking Alcaraz at the start of the second set, cementing it to go 2-0 up. But Alcaraz drew level before breaking Paul a second time in the set as his opponent’s form dipped. And he held to force Paul to save the set, which the American duly did. Holding serve had not been easy for either player with 14 break points in the opening set and there had been seven more in this crucial second set. But the champion proved why he is one by holding to love and levelling the match.

And he maintained his groove in the third, cranking up his massive forehand to good effect as he secured the ninth service break of the match with the aid of an unforced error by Paul.

And the American had to stave off a clutch of break points before hanging on to his serve with the help of Alcaraz going off the boil.

Both players were struggling with their first serve and most service games remained lengthy. A relieved Alcaraz ended the very next game with a loud “vamos” of relief as he held for 4-2. And he was sufficiently fired up to break Paul again and serve out for a 2-1 sets lead.

Paul enjoys fishing back home, but there wasn’t much serenity to be gleaned from the position he found himself in. Alcaraz was rocking his boat. The Spaniard dipped into his tool-box of skills to unleash a ferocious backhand cross court to hold before breaking Paul for a 2-1 lead in the fourth set.

And Alcaraz, who became the youngest ever world No.1 aged 19 in 2022, secured a double break before completing the job playing with the freedom of a player with the world at his feet.

As John McEnroe said on behalf of tennis: “We’re lucky to have him.”


Carlos Alcaraz (L)and Tommy Paul exchange words after their match




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