Thursday, July 25, 2024

Alcaraz holds off Humbert


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Defending champion through to quarter-finals after four set win over Frenchman

London, July 7: Sunday was not a day to hang about: as the day began, the weather was filthy. This was a day for getting the chores done quickly and then run for the cover of home and a nice, warm cup of tea.
Carlos Alcaraz, more used to the gentler climes of Murcia (where it was 31 degrees and sunny), was certainly in no mood to waste any time but Ugo Humbert had other ideas.He threw everything he had in his kitbag at the defending champion and kept him on court for nearly three hours, but it was all for nothing: Alcaraz came through 6-3, 6-4, 1-6, 7-5.
“Unbelievable, I guess,” he said. “I felt great playing today. I felt I played to a really high level. I just try to fight every ball, every point. It doesn’t matter which part of the court I am. Just to give myself the chance to still be alive in the point. I fight until the last point – just to fight.”
Just to add a little spice to the encounter, there were bragging rights at stake for the defending champion. Should he reach the quarter-finals, his ninth at Grand Slam level, he would join his coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero, in joint third place in the list of Spaniards to have achieved such a feat.
Such little side competitions can help relieve the tension of the occasion, especially when a chap has not been playing at his absolute best in every round. And when Alcaraz fired a running backhand around the net post and landed the ball on a postage stamp in the far corner of the court, he turned to his team and stared at his coach. Did you see that, boss? JCF had seen it all right; he misses nothing.
Humbert posed a different challenge to the world No.3 – he is left-handed. Although Alcaraz had beaten all six of the lefties he had faced in other Grand Slams – and had won 24 of 32 matches against southpaws in all – his only previous encounter with a lefthander on a grass court came a couple of weeks ago. And he lost that to Jack Draper at Queen’s Club.
“Playing lefties is always tricky,” Alcaraz said. “At Queen’s I played my first against a lefty one so I guess I learned a little bit from that match.”
The Frenchman is no novice on this surface. He reached the semi-finals in ‘s-Hertogenbosch at the start of the grass court swing and won the title in Halle three years ago. (AP)


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