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Carlos Alcaraz beats Frances Tiafoe in 5 sets at Wimbledon

Carlos Alcaraz beats Frances Tiafoe in 5 sets at Wimbledon

LONDON – Defending champion Carlos Alcaraz came from behind to beat Frances Tiafoe 5-7 6-2 4-6 7-6(2) 6-2 and reach the fourth round of Wimbledon on Friday in an entertaining match between two friends that was full of moments of brilliance and a series of fast-paced twists and turns.

Third seed Alcaraz outplayed No. 29 Tiafoe at times but still managed to reach the finish line, recording 12 wins and one loss in his career in fifth sets. Tiafoe lost 6-13 in that category.

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.

It was definitely close.

The 26-year-old American was just two points away from a match point, having reached 30 on Alcaraz’s serve in the fourth set. But Alcaraz held on and won, as he usually does, to take the next four points, capping off with a 130mph (210km/h) ace.

He then dominated the ensuing tiebreak, taking a 5-0 lead with another ace, this time at 127 mph (205 km/h).

The final set was more of a one-way affair. Tiafoe managed to hold on to his lead in the opening game, but that was it. At 1-1, Alcaraz earned the final break he needed with a powerful backhand, but Tiafoe let it slide, then watched as the ball landed right on the baseline, getting some chalk.

In front of a crowd that included Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes and Oscar-winning actor Dustin Hoffman, the two players were ready to put on a show. Alcaraz fired quick throws from behind the net and pointed to his ear to ask the crowd for more noise. Tiafoe also interacted with the crowd, waving at them to raise their voices.

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These two exchanged some nice bad talk when they found out they were going to face each other, and they hugged each other at the net when it was over.

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

Both were often smiling in the heat of the moment on the court, and they did so repeatedly on Friday. They also celebrated key points with raised or shaken fists.

But there weren’t many long matches the pair played at Flushing Meadows less than two years ago — when Alcaraz beat Tiafoe in a five-setter in the U.S. Open semifinals — mostly because the grass tends to be quicker and more expendable. There were moments of shared excellence, however, including a 22-shot point Alcaraz won to help take a 4-2 lead in the first set.

Tiafoe broke his opponent’s serve in the second set, then Alcaraz regained his balance in the second set. Then it was Tiafoe’s turn to play better in the third set. In the end, it was Alcaraz who won the set.

Alcaraz will now continue his quest for a second straight All England Club title and a fourth Grand Slam overall, including his French Open triumph last month that made the 21-year-old Spaniard the youngest man to win a major on all three surfaces.