Historic day on Centre Court sees a glimpse into tennis’ future as teenage tennis sensation Carlos Alcaraz crashes out of Wimbledon after a Fourth Round defeat to 20-year-old Jannik Sinner in four sets
- Carlos Alcaraz lost in four sets to Italian Jannik Sinner in the Fourth Round
- Sinner beat the Spaniard, seeded fifth, 6-1 6-4 6-7 (8-10) 6-3 on Centre Court
- Alcaraz was unable to match his career best quarterfinal finish at a Grand Slam
- Sinner will now face either Novak Djokovic or Tim van Rijthoven in the quarters
If there was a fabulous new tennis narrative emerging, then perhaps the sport would not feel the need to prostrate itself before a bullying and deeply unpleasant Australian of whom one compatriot columnist suggested last week: ‘Show the bloke the way to Wimbledon railway station and point him in the direction of a train to Heathrow Airport.’
On Centre Court yesterday came a glimpse of one, from the two young players who just might dominate this sport’s future and help reduce Nick Kyrgios to an irrelevance.
Jannik Sinner, 20, tall, rake-like, big-hitting, across the net from Carlos Alcaraz, 19, rapid, sleek, powerful, provided one of those vivid contrasts that comprise some of the great sporting rivalries.
Fifth seed Carlos Alcaraz, 19, lost in the Fourth Round to Italian tenth seed Jannik Sinner
The two players’ combined age made it the youngest Wimbledon men’s singles match-up in the round of 16 or later since Boris Becker defeated Henri Leconte in 1985.
Jannik’s victory was a surprise, given that Alcaraz is ranked seven in the world, six places above him, and seems a Grand Slam champion in waiting.
But the Spaniard is learning on the hoof about grass and these three and a half hours of tennis showed that. His timing was skewed. He frequently over-hit. He struggled to get close to the Italian’s serve. More often than not, his attempts to drop his opponent were disastrous.
The Italian displayed more willingness to move in behind his serves, a remarkable touch at the net for a 6ft 2in player and far more accuracy in the blows he swung from the baseline. Jannik might look more the mechanical of the two, though he has personality. Not to mention a hinterland, as a national Italian skiing champion at the age of eight.
Sinner could face reigning champion Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals
There was, needless to say, something resonant of Rafa Nadal in Alcaraz’s big swinging shots at the ball from deep, despite his shaved head. Nadal has become so tired of the suggestion that the teenager is his successor that he’s asked questions.
‘It will be better, even if it’s interesting, if you stop comparing him to me,’ said the Spaniard at this year’s Italian Open. ‘We cannot be thinking all the time about how I was and how he is today.’
The match’s drama came in the third set tie-break. Alcaraz had spurned three set points in a tie break and saved a match point before levering a half volley which helped extend the match into a fourth set. But the Spaniard double-faulted to gift Jannik the critical fourth set break.
It was an error-strewn game. Neither player is the finished article on grass. The defeat, following on from a defeat to Alexander Zverev at Roland Garros, will be chastening for Alcaraz, who had seemed unstoppable this Spring.
Jannik becomes the youngest man to reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon since 2014 – when Kyrgios reached one at the age of 19 years and 70 days. Novak Djokovic or Tim van Rijthoven lie in wait there.