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Wimbledon final showdown looms for Djokovic and Alcaraz

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Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz stayed on track for a dream final at Wimbledon.

Novak Djokovic (pictured) and Carlos Alcaraz stayed on track for a dream final at Wimbledon. File Picture: EPA, Neill Hall

London – 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 a 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 11pm 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.

AFP

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