Sinner Beats Alcaraz in a Match Befitting Wimbledon’s Centre Court

“I think what we showed today, it’s a great level of tennis, great attitude from both of us,” Sinner said. “There are still so many other players who are playing incredible tennis. For sure, we are the two youngest at the moment. So let’s see. I don’t know in the future what’s going to happen. I think it’s just great for tennis to have also some new names, new players.”

This has been a most unusual Wimbledon with the No. 1-ranked Daniil Medvedev and his fellow Russians barred from playing because of the war in Ukraine; the new No. 2, Alexander Zverev of Germany, out after major ankle surgery; and three other leading grass-court players — Matteo Berrettini of Italy, Marin Cilic of Croatia and Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain — withdrawing after testing positive for the coronavirus.

There were big windows of opportunity in the draw, and of the 16 players in the men’s fourth round, only two — Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal — had been to even the semifinals of a Grand Slam singles tournament. Sinner will now face Djokovic, the three-time defending champion at Wimbledon, in the quarterfinals after Djokovic defeated Tim van Rijthoven, a late-blooming Dutch wild-card entrant, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, on Sunday night.

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Though seeded 10th at Wimbledon, Sinner had never won a match on grass on the main tour until arriving at the All England Club, but it was difficult to understand why as he navigated the grass and generated huge punching power with his groundstrokes against Alcaraz off shots hit from all different kinds of heights. Sinner was the more consistent force on Sunday, but he was also often the one doing the dictating against one of the most explosive movers and hitters in the men’s game.

Sinner, who had lost his only previous tour-level match against Alcaraz, kept him stretching and lunging and turned Alcaraz’s service games into gantlets by repeatedly putting forceful returns at his feet and obliging him to flick half-volleys while leaning back just to stay in the point.

“For me, Jannik played incredibly well,” said Alcaraz, the higher seed at No. 5.

The elastic Alcaraz was often spectacular (he cannot help himself) but also irregular: misfiring repeatedly on his signature drop shots and failing to convert any of his seven break points while Sinner cashed in on four of his 12.

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