Top seed Alcaraz wins the battle of the youngsters to reach semi-final after tough three-setter

By Paul Lagan at Wimbledon

Centre Court

Alcaraz v Rune 7-6, 6-4, 6-4

Carlos Alcaraz is through to his first Wimbledon semi-final after a straight sets victory over his contemporary Holgar Rune.

The Spaniard will face Danilo Medvedev on Friday.

He won 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 20 minutes.

The number one seed has played Rune twice with a win apiece, but Alcaraz showed that while he may be a few days younger than Rune, he is a level above him at the moment.

The 20-year-old said of his win: “It’s a dream for me. It’s a beautiful tournament. I played a good game on this service. It was tough at the beginning, I was really nervous, but I was also playing against a brilliant player of the same age.

But once in the court we are not friends.

“From the second set onwards, I enjoyed it a lot. I screamed at winning the first set as I needed to get to my best level.”

Of playing Medvedev, he said: “We played twice, once at Wimbledon. It will be a tough one, his game is well suited to this service.

“I am going to enjoy this match now and prepare for it.”

Alcaraz and Rune are mates off the court and are the emerging elite powerhouses in tennis.

And these two are set to see off the dynasty of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer, although maybe not Djokovic this Wimbledon.

Both born in 2003 and already slugging out for a place in the semi-final on Friday, they took to Centre Court like veterans and each kept their serve with a combination of quality and fast first serves, coupled with excellent angled returns that created an unforced error or two from their opponent.

There was a hint of a break for Alcaraz in the fourth game, but Rune eventually held for 2-2.

As the games progressed, it would take just one error to decide a game and set but like dy follows night, this set and all the hallmarks of going to a tie-breaker.

But 40 love suddenly became deuce, advantage was restored by Rune with a wonderful deceptive backhand down the line, and then a lob which was returned by Alcaraz  with venom, but Rune was at the net and dropped the ball over to snatch back the game and take it to 5-5.

Alcatraz hits a winner on Centre Court Picture: Paul Lagan
Alcatraz hits a winner on Centre Court Picture: Paul Lagan

Some delicate drop shot net action saw Rune take a love 30 lead on Alcaraz’a serve.

The man from Murcia responded to take the game – the final point was a tremendous forehand that Rune could only dream of returning.

And as predicted a tie-breaker loomed.

Alcaraz held the first point, Hawkeye gave Rune his first, a sensational, lob, drop shot and a cross court clipped backhander gave the Spaniard a mini-break, which he duly surrendered to bring it back to serve at 2-2.

Alcaraz then went 3-2 as Rune smacked the ball into the crowd.

Then it was 3-3, before a double-fault gave Alcaraz the advantage, Rune smacked the return into the net to make it 5-3. A powerful forehand to Rune’s backhand forced the error and gave Alcaraz set point.

A second serve saw Alcaraz whip a backhand down the line to secure the point and set.

Once again opening games went with serve, Alcaraz almost dropped his at 1-2 but recovered with a strong serve which Rune drove long.

And with the second set following the traits of the first, games continued to go with serve, with another tie-breaker the obvious destination of the set.

But then at 4-4, a break point at 30-40 for Alcaraz, which he took after producing an athletic back hand lob which Rune smashed into the net to take a 5-4 lead, leaving him serving for the second set.

Which he took with aplomb.

The first four sets of set three went with serve. And then the whole complexion of the set took a turn for the worse for the Mn from Norway.

Unforced errors saw him lose his serve to 15 and give Alcaraz the break he needed. Once again the Spaniard came out on top with a touch of  drop shot at the net tennis and it gave him the decisive point to go 4-2 up.

A welcome hold of service from Rune was greeted with delight by the crowd, who were hoping, not that Rune would win necessarily, but the match would be extended – after all they pay a lot for their ticket and want a good day’s action.

Alcaraz served 4-3 up at just 6.20pm.

That soon became 5-3 and defeat loomed starkly on the horizon for Rune.

Despite taking the first point, Rune then lost two in a row. The crowd did their encouraging best for him, and he responded to make it 30 all. 

A powerful backhand forced a net from Rune and it was match point. He again responded with a strong serve to bring it back to deuce, then a whipped cross-court forehand brought about an advantage for him. Which he served with power and Alcaraz filed to return.

But it meant he was now serving for a place in the semi-final.

Alcaraz took the first point, Rune hitting wide, a lovely serve and return across the court made it 30 love, Rune then netted the serve to leave it 40 love and three match points. A double fault prolonged the agony, then a I-wide made it 40-30.

Then it was all over, a slow second serve, left Rune dinking the return long.

Pictured Top: Alcatraz and Rune at the net at the end of the match Picture: Paul Lagan

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