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Carlos Alcaraz of Spain. Picture: CLIV BRUNSKILL/GETTY IMAGES
Carlos Alcaraz of Spain. Picture: CLIV BRUNSKILL/GETTY IMAGES

London — Wimbledon’s reigning champion Carlos Alcaraz was pushed to the limit for the second match in succession but stood firm to beat Ugo Humbert and reach the quarterfinals on Sunday.

Outplayed at times by his French opponent, third seed Alcaraz dug deep to triumph 6-3 6-4 1-6 7-5 to move through to the last eight at a Grand Slam for the ninth time.

Just as against American Frances Tiafoe in the previous round, Alcaraz struggled to contain an inspired opponent throwing the kitchen sink at him, but this time narrowly avoided being dragged into another five-setter.

The players were protected from the torrential rain that drummed on the closed Centre Court roof early on, but there was no hiding place for Humbert as Alcaraz stormed through the opening set after grabbing an early service break.

Left-hander Humbert began to make inroads with his early-struck returns in the second set but he went unrewarded as Alcaraz pounced to mover to within a set of victory.

The warning signs had been there for Alcaraz though and he was stunned in the third set as an increasingly confident Humbert broke his serve three times in succession.

After a flurry of service breaks at the start of the fourth set, Humbert continued to look dangerous and had three break points when Alcaraz served at 3-4 but the three-time Grand Slam champion wriggled out of danger.

Alcaraz found some magic just when he needed it most, curling a staggering forehand winner down the line when under the hammer in his next service game and then breaking serve in the following game with another forehand dipper.

Alcaraz brought up match point with a silky drop shot and sealed victory with a swinging serve.

French Open runner-up Jasmine Paolini reached the quarterfinals for the first time after a totally distraught Madison Keys was forced to call it quits at 5-5 in the third set with a suspected groin injury.

Keys appeared to have one foot in the last eight when she went to serve for the match at 5-2 up the deciding set but clutched her left groin immediately after getting broken.

The American 12th seed called for the trainer one game later and limped off court for a medical time out before re-emerging with her left thigh heavily strapped.

Upon resumption, she started sobbing after netting a drop shot to fall 15-40 behind. Though the 29-year-old saved the first break point with a stupendous backhand winner, she was again in tears after surrendering her serve with a double fault.

Clearly struggling to even walk between points, Keys somehow conjured a lob to win the first point off Paolini’s next service game. But when she saw the next point whizz past her for an ace, she shook her head and signalled it was all over as she walked to the net to give her Italian opponent a tearful hug.

Reuters

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