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By Richard Pagliaro | @TennisNow | Tuesday, July 9, 2024


Carlos Alcaraz topped Tommy Paul 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 scoring his 12th straight SW19 win to set up a Wimbledon semifinal rematch vs. Daniil Medvedev.

Photo credit: Rob Newell/CameraSport

Wimbledon—Conjuring crackling shot-making, Carlos Alcaraz transformed No. 1 Court into a boom room today.

Rockets launched from Alcaraz’s racquet reverberated throughout the court beneath the closed retractable roof—a sonic reminder of Alcaraz’s explosiveness and commitment to the cause.

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Defending Wimbledon champion Alcaraz repelled Queen’s Club champion Tommy Paul 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 scoring his 12th straight SW19 win to set up a semifinal rematch with Daniil Medvedev.

In a clash of current Queen's champion Paul and the 2023 Queen’s Club champion Alcaraz, the Spaniard converted 8 of 27 break points snapping the American’s nine-match grass-court winning streak.

“Well he has been playing great tennis here on grass, he won Queen’s, he has been doing great stuff here at Wimbledon,” Alcaraz told Rishi Persad in his on-court interview. “Of course today was a really, really difficult match.

“In the first and second sets I had to stay strong mentally. When I lost the first set it was kind of difficult for me. But I know this is a really long, journey, a really long match and I’m really happy to find the solutions and the good path.”

The third-seeded Spaniard smacked stress away today—he was down 5-7, 0-2—and came through to advance to his sixth Grand Slam semifinal in 14 major appearances. Alcaraz did it in three hours, 11 minutes giving himself about an hour to unwind before his beloved Spanish squad takes on France in tonight’s Euro 2024 soccer semifinals.

Empowered by his 12-1 career record in five-setters, Alcaraz geared up his game midway through the second set and accelerated through the third and fourth sets beating Paul for the third time in five meetings. The sound of the ball off Alcaraz’s strings on some of those booming forehands was so distinct, some in the crowd gasped at times.

The youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on all three major surfaces, Alcaraz said even when he’s down his confidence level is up.

“I believe that I can be back if I’m struggling a little bit to find the solutions if the opponent is playing great tennis,” Alcaraz said. “I believe in the end I’ll be able to come back and be able to find solutions.

“Even here in the Grand Slams where the matches are long I have more time to comeback, so I believe in myself all the time.”

Down a set and a break, Alcaraz geared up his game and pulverized powerful drives down the line to completely turn the match around.

At the tender age of 21, Alcaraz is the third Spanish man to reach multiple Wimbledon semifinals after Rafael Nadal (eight Wimbledon semifinals) and Manolo Santana (two semifinals).

A year ago, Alcaraz mauled Medvedev 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to advance to his first Wimbledon final.

On that day, Alcaraz exploited Medvedev’s deep court positioning and chewed up the Russian’s second serve in an overwhelming performance that was a prelude to his five-set epic victory in the final where he dethroned defending-champion Novak Djokovic.

This time around, Medvedev will carry the confidence that comes from conquering world No. 1 Jannik Sinner 6-7(7), 6-4, 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-3 in today’s quarterfinal on Centre Court. Then there’s the fact Medvedev dismantled Alcaraz in the US Open semifinals last September 7-6(3), 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in a match where the lanky Russian was widely regarded as a solid under dog.

In today's quarterfinal rematch of the Australian Open final, Medvedev snapped a five-match losing streak to Sinner as well as a five-match slide against Top 5 players.

The fifth-seeded Medvedev has a simple strategy to turn it around against Alcaraz: play better and serve bigger. 

"Just play better. It's always a question, did I serve not well enough or have Carlos been amazing on the return this day last year because he won?" Medvedev told the media at Wimbledon. "I have to serve better.

"That's still the most important thing on grass. You serve aces, you serve on the line, you're less in trouble, and you feel better. That's where you can put pressure on his serve."

Overall, Alcaraz has won five of seven meetings vs. Medvedev, including a 7-6(5), 6-1 victory in the Indian Wells final last March.

“He’s a really great player; the same semifinals as last year, hopefully I’m gonna get the same result,” said Alcaraz, who improved to 22-3 on grass, including a 16-1 mark at The Championships. “He just won against Jannik Sinner, the best player right now, so I know he’s in really great shape. So I have to play my best….it’s gonna be a difficult one, but I’m gonna enjoy it.”

In today’s quarterfinal clash between two athletes of exceptional agility, Paul got off to a strong start only to see Alcaraz threaten his serve consistently over the final three-and-a-half sets.

The 12th-seeded Paul was bidding to join Sam Querrey (2017) and John Isner (2018) as just the third American man to reach the Wimbledon semifinals since Hall of Famer Andy Roddick’s fourth semifinal appearance in 2009.

While the pair engaged in some exceptional running rallies, ultimately Alcaraz’s superior serving and some ferocious forehand strikes helped him take 12 of the last 16 games and the match.

"The points were long, but we were kind of hitting laser beams back and forth," Paul said. "We were both moving pretty well. Like I said, I feel like he kind of kept the level, and mine kind of dropped off a bit. I didn't serve super great today.

"I mean, I couldn't find a first serve. It's tough to play anybody in the top hundred not serving well on first serves. He was all over my second, it felt like. It wasn't a fun situation."

In the opening game, both men showed superb court coverage giving a glimpse of rallies to come. Paul dodged a couple of break points holding for 5-4.

When Alcaraz tried attacking in the 12th game, Paul was prepared pounding a backhand pass down the line the lunging Spaniard could not reach to break and snatch a one-set lead.

Murmurs of concern came over Alcaraz fans in the crowd after Paul hit a forehand swing volley and exploited a double fault breaking for a 7-5, 2-0 lead.

Hitting heavier, Alcaraz ran through six of the next eight games to collect the second set.

Three consecutive service breaks started the third set. Alcaraz detonated a 132 mph ace down the T for the first hold for the set for 3-1.

Alcaraz was stinging his shots to push Paul back. When the three-time Grand Slam champion whipped a backhand return winner down the line, he scored his sixth break for 5-2.

The unsettling skill to shift between soft touch and massive missiles is a major Alcaraz asset. He showed it by carving out a drop shot then searing a serve winner down the T to close the third set after two hours, 33 minutes of play.

The forehand, particularly the forehand drive down the line, failed Paul a bit in the third game. A couple of misfires put Alcaraz exactly where he wanted to be—up a break at 2-1 in the fourth set.

Despite a phenomenal sharp-angled one-handed backhand pass from Paul, Alcaraz won a crackling 23-shot rally—-ending it with a forehand drop volley—to back up the break for 3-1.

A dagger drive down the line helped Alcaraz pierce Paul’s comeback hopes as he broke for the seventh time stretching his lead to 4-1 at the three-hour mark.

Alcaraz coaxed a backhand error to close the quarterfinal in three hours, 11 minutes. Overall, Alcaraz has experienced some dips in level during the tournament, but continues his Wimbledon winning streak even when his best tennis eludes him at times. That's the mark of a true champion: Winning even when you're not at your best though certainly Alcaraz played a very impressive level over the final two sets.

"Obviously, it's going to be really difficult to play my best tennis every match. I know that there are going to be some matches that I'm not going to find my best tennis even though I have to try to win it," Alcaraz said tonight. "I think that what the big three did along their career, they are not going to play his best tennis. Even like that, they are going to find their good tennis just to win those matches. That what I'm thinking.

"When I'm not playing my best tennis, I'm going to try to find solutions just to be a bit better, just to beat the opponent.

:Sometimes going to be difficult to do it, but sometimes like these matches I didn't play brilliant, but I played enough level just to beat those matches."


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