Carlos Alcaraz beats Frances Tiafoe in 5 sets at Wimbledon

LONDON – Carlos Alcaraz found himself in the fifth set of a Grand Slam tournament again, this time at Wimbledon, and this time against his close friend Frances Tiafoe. As he often does in such circumstances, no matter how much trouble he may be in, Alcaraz pushed through to the finish line.

Alcaraz avoided a shock exit and beat Tiafoe 5-7, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-2 on Friday to reach the fourth round of Wimbledon in a match full of moments of brilliance over 3 hours and 50 minutes.

“Playing against Francis is always a big challenge,” Alcaraz said. “As I’ve said many times, he’s a really talented player. It’s really tough to play against him. And he showed that again. It was really tough for me to adapt to my style of play, to find solutions, to try to put him in trouble. But I’m really happy that I did it in the end.”

In front of a packed center-court crowd that included Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes and Oscar-winning actor Dustin Hoffman, and under a retractable roof that amplified the vibrations of bats on balls, the groans and the cheers, No. 3 Alcaraz outlasted No. 29 Tiafoe for long stretches.

But Alcaraz has handled the situation better, racking up 12-1 wins in his budding career in fifth sets — including victories in the semifinals and final at the French Open after trailing 2-1 in sets en route to winning the title there last month. Tiafoe lost 6-13 in five sets.

Tiafoe was unable to secure a win, which would have been a surprise for a player who arrived at Wimbledon suffering from a sprained ligament in his right knee and has had a losing season this season.

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I definitely came close, though.

The 26-year-old American was two points away from a match point, reaching 30-0 on Alcaraz’s serve in the fourth set. But Alcaraz held on and won the next four points, capped by a 130 mph (210 kph) ace.

Alcaraz then dominated the ensuing tiebreak, taking a 5-0 lead.

“I have served [at] “I had a lot of tough moments in the fourth set… All I could think was, ‘OK, fight another ball, another ball.’ I was thinking about the next point,” Alcaraz said. “And obviously in the tiebreak I always tell myself that I have to do my best. If I lose, I lose, but I have to feel like I gave my best all the time.”

The final set saw more one-sided play. Tiafoe managed to hold the lead in the opening game, but that was it. At 1-1, Alcaraz managed to break his final serve when he hit a backhand across the court, but Tiafoe let it go; the ball landed right on the baseline, scattering a bit of chalk on the court.

In the men’s competition, 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov and 12th seed Tommy Paul won their third-round matches on Friday.

Dimitrov defeated Frenchman Gael Monfils in two straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3, while Paul defeated Alexander Bublik in two straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

Most of the attention was on Alcaraz and Tiafoe, who are known for putting on a great show. Alcaraz put on a great show while running, pointing to his ear to ask the spectators for more noise; Tiafoe also interacted with the fans, waving at them to raise their voices.

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These two had some nice bad talk when they found out they were going to face each other, and they hugged and chatted online when it was over.

Tiafoe was suspended for last month’s match at Queen’s Club after a knee injury, and his record was just 13-14 in 2024 before Wimbledon, with some of those losses coming against players he referred to as “clowns,” without naming names.

After Tiafoe, who was wearing a black sleeve on his right knee, slipped and fell to the ground several times on Friday, Alcaraz walked around the net to the other side of the court to check on him or offer a hand to help him get back on his feet.

But at Flushing Meadows, there were fewer of the long matches the two players played less than two years ago — when Alcaraz beat Tiafoe in a five-setter in the U.S. Open semifinals — mostly because the grass is faster and tends to end points quickly. Still, there were some shared highlights, including a 22-shot point Alcaraz won to help take a 4-2 lead in the first set.

Tiafoe broke his opponent’s serve immediately and quickly took control of the set. Alcaraz corrected his position in the second set. Then it was Tiafoe’s turn to play better in the third set. In the end, it was Alcaraz who emerged.

Alcaraz will now continue his quest for a second successive All England Club title and a fourth Grand Slam overall, including the recent triumph in Paris that made the 21-year-old Spaniard the youngest man to win a Grand Slam on all three surfaces.

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This report was based on information from the Associated Press.

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