If Carlos Alcaraz has the time to watch replays of his three Wimbledon matches this year he will see one statistic flash up repeatedly — the Spaniard is the only player among the men’s top eight seeds not to reach a Grand Slam semi-final.
On Friday’s evidence it will not be too long before the 19-year-old forces broadcasters to come up with more favourable stats about his career as reached the last 16 by taking care of tricky German Oscar Otte with a 6-3, 6-1, 6-2 victory.
Otte had stretched twice Wimbledon champion Andy Murray to five sets in a late-night second-round blockbuster 12 months ago but any hopes of a repeat against Alcaraz on Friday were quickly extinguished by the exciting fifth seed.
The teenager, who had won only one match on grass before this year’s championships, appears to have found his comfort zone on the lush grass as he saved the only break point he faced while capturing his 28-year-old opponent’s serve six times.
Despite being the youngest in the men’s draw, Alcaraz showed his maturity when he handed over a point to Otte early in the second set after the umpire ordered the players to replay it as they had failed to hear the ball being called out.
Realising there was no way he could have retrieved Otte’s spectacular forehand that curled around the net post to land in, Alcaraz signalled that his opponent should be given the point.
“With good sportsmanship, Mr Alcaraz has awarded the point to Mr Otte,” the umpire said to cheers from the Court One crowd.
That generosity of spirit, however, did not extend any further as Alcaraz produced only one unforced error in the entire second set as he floored the 32nd-seeded German with a stream of eye-catching forehand winners.
The Spaniard wrapped up the contest when Otte misfired the ball into the sky.
“This was the best match on grass I have ever played. I have enjoyed each match I have played here and am really happy to get into the fourth round,” a beaming Alcaraz told the crowd after becoming the youngest man in over a decade to reach the last 16.
“Wimbledon gives you special energy so I am trying to get better every day and every match I play on grass.”
If Alcaraz beats Sinner and six-time champion Novak Djokovic defeats Dutch wildcard Tim van Rijthoven, the duo will meet in a highly-anticipated last eight showdown next week.
Sinner tames Isner
Italian youngster Jannik Sinner could not tame American John Isner’s heavy-duty serving but the 10th seed had enough other weapons in his armoury to win 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-3 and sail into the fourth round at Wimbledon on Friday.
Sinner lost in the first round in his Wimbledon main draw debut last year but the highly-rated 20-year-old has reached at least the fourth round of his next four Grand Slams since then.
Friday’s win made the 10th-seeded Sinner the youngest Italian in the Open Era to reach the Wimbledon fourth round while setting up a mouth-watering clash of young guns against 19-year-old Alcaraz.
Sinner said he was “good friends” with Alcaraz outside the court.
“It’s obviously tough to say,” the Italian replied when asked if their rivalry would become an important one in men’s tennis. “I mean, I hope I can be part of this, for sure.
“But everyone has his own way. I still have to work a lot. So let’s see what the future gives me and Carlos. We are both young. We are both great tennis players and good people. Yeah, hopefully this can be the case.
“But, I’m not thinking so much about that. I’m thinking about my way where I have to go. Obviously there is a lot of work to do.”
Isner slammed down 24 aces against Sinner to beat Ivo Karlovic’s 13,728 and claim the record but the American had no answer to the 20-year-old Italian’s all-court game and powerful groundstrokes.
Undeterred by the booming serves from Isner, who ousted twice former champion Andy Murray in the second round, Sinner kept a lid on his unforced errors and dominated the rallies in a match of small margins.
Sinner, whose best results at the majors are quarter-final appearances at the 2020 French Open and this year’s Australian Open, converted two of his four break points on the highly-regarded Isner serve.
He did not allow the 20th-seeded Isner a single opportunity on his own serve while breaking the American once in the first and third sets.
“Playing against John is never easy. Obviously very happy to be in the next round,” Sinner said.
“It was a match (in which) I was not expecting many rallies. He was serving well. I’m happy to be through. I hope he is physically is okay because in third set he was struggling.”
Britain’s Norrie reaches Wimbledon fourth round for first time
British number one Cameron Norrie sailed into uncharted territory by reaching the fourth round at a Grand Slam for the first time with a comfortable 6-4, 6-1. 6-0 win over American Steve Johnson at Wimbledon on Friday.
The world number 12, who joined compatriot Heather Watson in the last 16, next faces another American in Tommy Paul.
The first set was a fairly even contest, staying on serve as both players cancelled each other out. Johnson’s serve also kept Norrie at bay, with seven aces to none for the Briton.
However, ninth seed Norrie finally made the breakthrough in the 10th game to clinch the set before grabbing an early break in the second after Johnson’s resistance started to wane with successive double faults and unforced errors.
A long backhand from the 93rd-ranked American gave Norrie another break opportunity which the Briton sealed to go 5-1 up. From there he comfortably served out the second set.
Any hope of a recovery for the 32-year-old American were all but put to rest in the first game of the third set which lasted almost 15 minutes but ended with another early break for Norrie.
He grabbed two more en route to closing out the set 6-0 and clinching his place in the last 16 to the cheers of the crowd.