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    Tuesday, July 11, 2023

    Djokovic, Alcaraz Stay On Track For Wimbledon Showdown

    Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz stayed on track for a dream final at Wimbledon on Monday as defending women’s champion Elena Rybakina reached the last eight after barely breaking sweat.

    Last year’s beaten finalist Ons Jabeur hammered two-time champion Petra Kvitova 6-0, 6-3 while second seed Aryna Sabalenka also won in straight sets.

    Djokovic tamed the impressive serve of Hubert Hurkacz to stay on track for a record-equalling eighth title and 24th Grand Slam, winning 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (8/6), 5-7, 6-4 to reach his 14th quarter-final at the tournament.

    The Serbian second seed was two sets up when a locally agreed 11:00 pm curfew halted play on Sunday.

    The match resumed on Centre Court on Monday and the Polish 17th seed broke his illustrious opponent in the 12th game to get a foothold in the match.

    In the fourth set, Djokovic broke for a 4-3 lead, ending Hurkacz’s perfect run of 67 service games at the tournament this year.

    Victory in his 100th match at the tournament gave the Serbian a 90th win.

    “In the important moments, particularly in the fourth, I managed to read his serve, make that break. That was the key to success,” said the 36-year-old, who will face Russia’s Andrey Rublev in the quarter-finals.

    Alcaraz lost the first set to 2021 runner-up Matteo Berrettini but recovered to reach the quarters for the first time, winning 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.

    The Spaniard has little experience on grass in his short career but won last month’s tournament at Queen’s to set himself up for a tilt at the Wimbledon title.

    “I really wanted to play the quarter-final here, coming this year with that goal,” said the US Open champion, who reached the fourth round at the All England Club last year.

    “It’s my dream to play a final here, to win this title one day, so I hope to reach that dream this year but right now it’s great to be in the quarter-finals.”

    Alcaraz will face sixth seed Holger Rune next after his fellow 20-year-old beat veteran Grigor Dimitrov 3-6, 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/4), 6-3.

    Men’s third seed Daniil Medvedev was 6-4, 6-2 ahead when unseeded Jiri Lehecka retired from their Court One clash with a foot injury.

    The Russian will face 43rd-ranked Christopher Eubanks, who beat fifth-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.

    The American described grass as the “stupidest” surface to play on last month but he has now changed his tune.

    “The grass and I, we’ve had a very strenuous relationship over the years but right now I think it’s my best friend,” he said.

    Fairytale ends

    The first result of the day was on No. 2 Court, where 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva’s fairytale run was brought to an end.

    The teenager, who came through qualifying, looked set for a place in the quarter-finals when leading 25th seed Madison Keys by a set and 4-1 but the American fought back to win 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2.

    The match ended in controversy when Andreeva was handed a penalty point for banging her racquet into the surface.

    The sanction took Keys to match point.

    Andreeva said she was seeking to channel Roger Federer, who was a hot-headed player in his younger days.

    “I knew that Roger Federer was struggling with emotions when he was teenager,” she said of the 20-time Grand Slam champion.

    “I’m not the only one who also struggles.”

    In the opening match on Centre Court, Rybakina was 3-1 up when Brazilian world number 13 Beatriz Haddad Maia took a medical timeout to treat a lower back injury. She returned to the court but had to retire when trailing 4-1.

    Kazakh third seed Rybakina will play Jabeur in the quarters in a re-match of last year’s final after the Tunisian swept Kvitova aside in just over a hour.

    “I’m probably going for my revenge,” she said. “It was a difficult final last year. It’s going to bring a lot of memories.

    “I’m hoping to play like today and get the win because she’s an amazing player.”

    In the other women’s fourth-round tie, Belarusian second seed Sabalenka, who won the Australian Open this year, breezed past Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-4, 6-0 and will play Keys next.


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