Carlos Alcaraz beats Frances Tiafoe in 5 sets at Wimbledon

LONDON — Carlos Alcaraz pushed himself to the fifth set of a Grand Slam again, this time at Wimbledon, this time against his good friend Frances Tiafoe. And as he often does in such situations, no matter how much trouble he was in, Alcaraz prevailed.

Alcaraz avoided a surprise defeat to reach the fourth round of Wimbledon on Friday by beating Tiafoe 5-7, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2. The match lasted 3 hours and 50 minutes and was filled with many great moments.

“Playing against Francis is always a big challenge. As I've said many times, he's a really talented player. He's really difficult to face. And he proved that once again,” said Alcaraz. “It was really difficult for me to change my game, find solutions, try to put him in trouble. But in the end I'm really happy to have done it.”

In front of a Centre Court crowd that included Kansas City Chiefs star quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Oscar-winning actor Dustin Hoffman, and under a closed roof that echoed with the sound of balls hitting racquets, grunts and cheers, third-seeded Alcaraz was briefly outplayed by No. 29 Tiafoe.

But Alcaraz got the better of the game in the end and is 12-1 in the fifth set in his career – including victories in the semifinals and final after trailing 2-1 in sets during his French Open title win last month. Tiafoe lost 6-13 in five sets.

Tiafoe was unable to secure what would have been a surprise victory, as he arrived at Wimbledon with a sprained right knee and a losing record this season.

However, we came close.

The 26-year-old American was two points away from a chance to serve for victory, reaching love-30 on Alcaraz's serve at 4-all in the fourth set. But Alcaraz composed himself and won the next four points, including an ace at 130 mph (210 kph).

Alcaraz then dominated the ensuing tiebreaker to take a 5-0 lead.

“I served [at] There were a lot of tough moments during the fourth set. … I was just thinking: 'OK, fight for one more ball, one more ball.' Thinking about the next point,” Alcaraz said. “And obviously in the tiebreak, I always tell myself I have to go for it. If I lose, I lose, but I have to feel like I went for it all the time.”

The final set was more one-way traffic. Tiafoe held his own in the opening game, but it was pretty even. At 1-1, Alcaraz got the last break he needed, hitting a cross-court backhand passing shot that Tiafoe let slip; the ball fell to the baseline, causing a few drops of chalk.

In the men's category, No. 10 Grigor Dimitrov and No. 12 Tommy Paul won their respective third-round matches on Friday.

Dimitrov defeated French player Gael Monfils in straight sets 6-3, 6-4, 6-3, while Paul also defeated Alexander Bublik in straight sets 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

Much of the attention was on Alcaraz and Tiafoe, who are known for putting on a show. Alcaraz ran, backed up to the net, gave out tweeners and pointed to his ear to get more noise from the crowd; Tiafoe also interacted with fans, waving at them to get them to be louder.

When the two found out they would be facing each other, they made good-natured small talk, and when the match was over they hugged and chatted at the net.

Tiafoe stopped playing during a match after suffering a knee injury at an event at Queen’s Club last month, and his record in 2024 ahead of Wimbledon was just 13-14, with some of those losses coming against players he referred to as “clowns” without naming them.

Tiafoe, who wore a black sleeve on his right knee, slipped and fell to the ground twice Friday, after which Alcaraz moved from near the net to the other side of the court to check on him or help him stand.

There were fewer long, extended debates at Flushing Meadows than there were two years ago – when Alcaraz beat Tiafoe in a five-setter in the US Open semifinals – mainly because of the fast grass that ends points quickly. Still, there was plenty of shared excellence, including a 22-stroke point that Alcaraz won to take a 4-2 lead in the first set.

Tiafoe bounced back quickly and quickly took that set. Alcaraz corrected himself in the second set. Then it was Tiafoe's turn to play better in the third set. And, ultimately, it was Alcaraz who emerged.

Now Alcaraz will be looking to win his second consecutive title at the All England Club and his fourth Grand Slam crown overall, including his recent triumph in Paris, which makes the 21-year-old Spaniard the youngest man to win major championships on all three surfaces.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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