Carlos Alcaraz remains on course to face Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final – but the seven-time champion is yet to have sleepless nights.
World number one Alcaraz, touted as Djokovic’s only realistic challenger these two weeks, joined the Serb in the fourth round after beating Nicolas Jarry.
Yet it took the Spaniard four sets and almost four hours to get past a player who hadn’t played at Wimbledon in four years and had won just one match here before this week.
However, Chile’s Jarry is a player on the rise, having risen to his career high of 28 from 152 in the world rankings earlier in the year.
Still, everything seemed to be going smoothly as Alcaraz won their 17th straight set with a single break.
But in the tie-break of the second set, Alcaraz netted a forehand to lose a set for the first time since playing Arthur Rinderknech in the first round at Queen’s last month.
Alcaraz regained the initiative with a single break to take third place while Jarry literally went to the roof with a particularly wild swing.
But the indefatigable Jarry regained momentum and broke again early in the fourth half before a false attack from Alcaraz – who stopped play only to find Jarry’s return had touched the baseline – saw him crouch in annoyance with himself let go.
But Alcaraz managed to hit back to make it 3-4, then showed why he’s the player up front with an unstoppable backhand return for the break, before serving to a hard-earned 6-3, 6-7 (6) 6 – 3 7-5 win.
“It was really tough, Nicolas is a really great player, he plays really well,” said Alcaraz. “I’m just really happy with the level I played to get through this difficult round.
“I had to stay focused. I knew I would have my chances. I would say the key is to believe in it all the time and stay focused.”
Alcaraz meets the dangerous Matteo Berrettini in the round of 16 after the 2021 runner-up defeated number 19 seeded Alexander Zverev 6-3, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) in a gripping thriller on Court One.
Third seeded Daniil Medvedev also lost a set but hit back and defeated Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics 4-6 6-3 6-4 6-4.
Andy Murray’s conqueror Stefanos Tsitsipas easily edged out Laslo Djere in straight sets while Chris Eubanks, who knocked out Cameron Norrie on Friday, won three straight tiebreaks and prevailed over Chris O’Connell.