Carlos Alcaraz beats Holger Rune 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 to reach Wimbledon semi-finals 

new balance


Carlos Alcaraz arrived in London three weeks ago, shaking off the clay from his shoes and a faintly embarrassing attack of cramp in his French open semi-final.

In his first match at Queen’s Club he looked like he would rather have stayed back in southern Spain, and barely squeaked past French journeyman Arthur Rinderknech. Those present might have wondered what all the fuss was about.

Nine matches and one grass court title on from that he is in the last four of Wimbledon for the first time, and few will doubt that they are watching a generational talent in the making.

If there was any hint of deflation it was that his first Grand Slam match against his direct contemporary Holger Rune was not ultimately closer, the world number one taking it 7-6 6-4 6-4 in two hours and 21 minutes. He has only dropped two sets since those initial stumbles.

Ultimately straightforward though it became, there was enough here in a match between two 20 year-olds born a week apart and ranked in the top ten to suggest that the post-Big Three era need not be bleak.

Carlos Alcaraz beat fellow 20-year-old Holger Rune to book a place in the Wimbledon semis

Carlos Alcaraz beat fellow 20-year-old Holger Rune to book a place in the Wimbledon semis

Rune was competing in his first Wimbledon quarter-final. His previous best was a round 1 loss

Rune was competing in his first Wimbledon quarter-final. His previous best was a round 1 loss

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Alcaraz admitted afterwards that facing someone he has known since pre-adolescence added to the pressure. Unlike some older heads in the locker room, he actually likes the slightly cocksure Dane, who does not take a backward step.

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‘At the beginning I was really nervous against him, but when you get on the court there are no friends, I think I did great in that bit,’ said the Spaniard.

‘Making the semi-finals here is a dream since I started playing tennis. I didn’t expect to play such a great level on this surface.’

A quick learner, then, and he will need to be for what remains of this event. It will see him face the world number three, Daniil Medvedev followed, most likely, by the player who ought to be above him as world number one.

He ought to be able to unpick the Russian’s shortcomings on grass, and if there is such a thing as having a free hit in a Wimbledon final then that would be the case against defending champion Novak Djokovic.

In contrast to the other quarter-final, being fought out between giants, his match against Rune also featured a pair of players who stand either at six feet tall or just over. That suggests there is hope the game will not be overrun by basketball-type athletes, as sometimes appears to be the future.

Alcaraz said he 'didn’t expect to play such a great level on this surface' after the match

Alcaraz said he ‘didn’t expect to play such a great level on this surface’ after the match

Russian No 3 seed Daniil Medvedev awaits Alcaraz in the semi-finals

Russian No 3 seed Daniil Medvedev awaits Alcaraz in the semi-finals

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Rune is improving at least as fast as Alcaraz, but this quarter final was evidence that he is starting from further back. While he will not be satisfied, it is a perfectly good result for him to have reached his seeded round on the grass, one that gains him membership of the Last Eight Club.

Despite their long history, playing against and sometimes alongside each other from the age of ten, the two of them had never completed a tour level match before.

The first set contained the full repertoire of shots that these two are likely to lay before the crowd for years to come as they duelled it out for the first time in a Grand Slam.

They featured a between-the-legs tweener from Rune, and combinations of brutally struck groundstrokes with deft drop shots that used most square inches of the striped lawn.

Alcaraz had the solitary break point chance but there was not so much as a sliver between them – 44 points each – as they reached 3-3 in the tiebreak. That was not a good time for the Dane to deliver his second double fault, and the Spaniard seized upon it with Djokovic-esque efficiency, and he ran off the next three points.

The nature of the match then changed like the weather, both men dominating with serve until Rune with his hyperactive tendencies suffered a rush of blood.

Both dominated with serve until Rune with his hyperactive tendencies suffered a rush of blood

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Both dominated with serve until Rune with his hyperactive tendencies suffered a rush of blood

For now, Alcaraz remains the most likely to stop the victory march of the great Djokovic

For now, Alcaraz remains the most likely to stop the victory march of the great Djokovic

Rune said he had felt sub-par physically: 'I didn't have the same energy as I normally have'

Rune said he had felt sub-par physically: ‘I didn’t have the same energy as I normally have’

He double faulted with a 125 mph second serve as part of a first sub-par service game, and then gifted the break point chance to his opponent when he hit a straightforward smash into the net.

Djokovic might be glad that Rune is out, given their head-to-head, but he will know that in Alcaraz there is a more rounded competitor.

Previous tough matches caught up with the Dane in the third set and he somewhat wilted. By the fifth game he was trying to quicken the exchanges, failing to execute two dropshots and getting a time violation as he took a breather between points, and he was decisively broken.

These two will meet up many times again in the bigger tournaments, but for now it is Alcaraz who remains the most likely to stop the victory march of the great Serbian warrior.

Rune said afterwards that he had felt a little sub-par physically: ‘I didn’t have the same energy as I normally have. I didn’t feel that great when I got up this morning,’ he stated without elaborating. 

new balance



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