Carlos Alcaraz celebrates victory over Nicolas Jarry. Alamy Stock Photo
Going Well

Carlos Alcaraz toughs it out to reach Wimbledon last 16

Ons Jabeur and Petra Kvitova will meet in the last 16 following wins on Saturday.

LAST UPDATE | 8 Jul 2023

CARLOS ALCARAZ was forced to dig deep on Saturday to see off the challenge of Nicolas Jarry and reach the last 16 at Wimbledon.

The Spanish top seed, seen as the man most likely to end Novak Djokovic’s long reign at the All England Club, was off-colour but still won 6-3, 6-7 (6/8), 6-3, 7-5.

A single break in the first set was enough for Alcaraz to edge ahead but he faltered in the second, slipping 4-1 behind.

The US Open champion clawed his way back, forcing a tie-break, but that went the way of his Chilean opponent, seeded 25th.

Alcaraz regrouped and took the third set 6-3 but the errors crept in again and he found himself in trouble at 3-0 down in the fourth.

The 20-year-old survived two break points in the following game and broke back when Jarry went long with a forehand.

He conjured a searing backhand return to break again in the 11th game and served out for the win.

“I’m really happy with the level that I played to get through this really tough match,” said Alcaraz.

He added: “It was really, really close. He has great shots… I would say the key is to believe all the time and stay focused.”

Alcaraz was playing his second match in two days after heavy rain earlier in the week caused a scheduling headache for tournament chiefs.

He is attempting to become the third-youngest player in the Open Era to win the Wimbledon title after Boris Becker and Bjorn Borg.

In the women’s singles, Ons Jabeur thanked the rain after battling back from a set down to beat Canada’s Bianca Andreescu and reach the fourth round.

A single break in the first set cost last year’s finalist at the All England Club but she engineered a break of her own in the second set to level the match.

Andreescu, the 2019 US Open champion, struck first in the decider, opening up a 3-1 lead, but the Tunisian sixth seed broke back immediately.

The match was halted at 3-2 in the decider as rain returned to Wimbledon, resuming after a prolonged inspection under the roof.

The turning point came in the ninth game when Jabeur, 28, broke her 50th-ranked opponent to love and she sealed the 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win with an ace.

Jabeur will play two-time champion Petra Kvitova who earlier stayed on track for a third title by beating Serbian qualifier Natalija Stevanovic 6-3, 7-5.

The Czech former world number two has pedigree on grass but has only made it past the third round once since she claimed her second title at the All England Club in 2014.

The ninth seed, who warmed up for Wimbledon by winning the WTA tournament on grass in Berlin last month, swapped early breaks with Stevanovic but broke again to love in the sixth game, which proved decisive.

Both players were vulnerable on serve in the second set and were locked at 4-4 after a fourth break.

World number 225 Stevanovic held to edge ahead 5-4 before rain swept across the courts, forcing a lengthy delay.

When they returned, Kvitova won 10 consecutive points but she strugged to close the deal against stubborn Stevanovic before finally sealing the victory on her fourth match point.

“I love playing on grass, for sure,” said Kvitova. “When my serve is working I love it even more.

“I don’t think it was the case today but somehow I found a way, which I’m very happy with.”

In addition, world number two Aryna Sabalenka reached the Wimbledon fourth round for the second time on Saturday with a straight-sets win over Russia’s Anna Blinkova.

Australian Open champion Sabalenka, who has a chance of taking Iga Swiatek’s world number-one ranking at the tournament, won 6-2, 6-3 on the back of 30 winners, including nine aces under the Court One roof.

The Belarusian will take on another Russian, 21st-seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova, for a place in the quarter-finals.

Sabalenka reached the semi-finals on her last appearance at Wimbledon in 2021 but was banned last year due to Belarus’s support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

– © AFP 2023

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