Jannik Sinner beat Carlos Alcaraz in a clash of newcomers on Sunday to reach his first Wimbledon quarter-final, despite needing six match points to put his opponent away.
Sinner, 20, failed to convert two match points in the third-set tiebreaker but recovered to win 6-1, 6-4, 6-7(8), 6-3 on center court against Alcaraz, 19. In terms of combined age, it was the youngest men’s singles clash in the round of 16 or later at Wimbledon since 1985, when 17-year-old Boris Becker beat Henri Leconte in the quarter-finals.
The 10th-seeded Sinner had three more match points at 5-2 in the fourth, but No.5-seeded Alcaraz saved them all before holding serve. Sinner then saved a break point in the following game before finally converting his sixth match point with a forehand winner.
“For me, I didn’t expect it because I wasn’t playing so well on grass,” Sinner said.
He will face defending champion Novak Djokovic, who beat unranked Tim van Rijthoven 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.
Facing a surprisingly tough opponent and an impending curfew, Djokovic kicked his game into high gear to beat both and reach his 13th Wimbledon quarter-final.
When 104th-ranked van Rijthoven surprisingly won a 50-minute second set, it looked like the game wouldn’t end until Wimbledon’s 11pm curfew. But Djokovic sped through the next two sets to seal the win, extending his Wimbledon winning streak to 25 matches, with around 20 minutes to spare and ensuring he gets a full day’s rest on Monday.
After the match, Djokovic said during his on-court interview that he was unaware of the curfew.
“Wow, OK. Wow, I’m lucky. Thank goodness. I had previous experiences of playing a game for two days under the roof – it’s never nice if you can’t finish the game on same day. I’m glad I did it and I’m looking forward to the next challenge,” he said.
Djokovic later added that his manager told him he had heard the All-England Club had had conversations about starting games on the main courts earlier.
“Since there are changes this year that we never thought we’d see at Wimbledon, why not move it half an hour, an hour earlier?” he said. “I think it would be very useful to complete matches without using the roof.”
David Goffin, meanwhile, reached his second Wimbledon quarter-final after defeating Frances Tiafoe in five sets.
The Belgian player won 7-6(3), 5-7, 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 in a close contest that lasted 4 hours and 36 minutes. Goffin also reached the quarters in his final Wimbledon appearance in 2019, but missed last year’s tournament through injury.
Tiafoe called a physio after winning the third set and was given a pill, then quickly fell 5-1 in the fourth as his first-serve percentage dwindled. The 23-seeded American held two break points at 5-5 in the fifth set, but Goffin saved them both with powerful serves and then converted his first match point in the match next when Tiafoe scored a backhand.
Goffin will face Cameron Norrie, who became the first Briton in five years to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals, beating Tommy Paul 6-4, 7-5, 6-4.
He is the first Briton to reach the quarter-finals since Andy Murray in 2017.
Norrie reached a career-high No. 10 this year, but this is the first time he has passed the third round of a Grand Slam tournament. Paul, seeded 30, was playing at Wimbledon for the first time and trying to reach his second Grand Slam quarter-final.
Tom Hamilton of ESPN and The Associated Press contributed to this report.