Defending champion Novak Djokovic will face 20-year-old Jannik Sinner in their quarter-final clash at Wimbledon 2022 on Tuesday.
Nothing could knock Sinner off course on Sunday as he battled to secure a blockbuster quarter-final date with the six-time champion.
Even when Carlos Alcaraz snatched two match points in a spellbinding third-set tie-break, the Italian didn’t flinch.
When three more match points were gone in the blink of an eye with Sinner 5-2 up in the fourth set, the Italian continued to believe.
And it was that belief, with a sledgehammer of a forehand, that took him to the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the first time with a 6-1 6-4 6-7(8) 6- win. 3 over Spain’s fifth seed. .
On a day when Wimbledon’s most famous stage celebrated its centenary, the two youngest remaining players in the men’s draw gave a glimpse of the future with jaw-dropping shots that earned them a standing ovation of 15,000 raving fans.
“It’s tough when you have match point and you still have to play. I tried my best,” said Sinner, who until this week had never won a game on grass.
“I’m very happy with how I reacted at the start of the fourth because I was struggling, but I’m very happy to be in the next round and hopefully I can play good tennis there.”
As Wimbledon all-time greats Rod Laver and Billie Jean King watched from the royal box, the opening two sets gave no indication of the jaw-dropping drama that would unfold on Center Court.
Highly rated Alcaraz, who have won four Tour-leading titles this year, were sucked into a whirlwind Sinner as they lost seven straight 1-1 in the opening set.
Just when it looked like Sinner would unceremoniously freeze the friend he had shared an ice bath with two days earlier, Alcaraz’s fearsome forehand suddenly began to do damage.
At 6-6 in the third set, it was on forehand battle.
Sinner denied Alcaraz three chances to close the set, with the Italian 10th seed saving a third of those set points with an outrageous crosscourt missile that was clocked at over 100mph.
Not to be outdone, the Spaniard then denied Sinner two match points before receiving a standing ovation when he threw an audacious half-volley to end what had been a rough baseline exchange.
It brought his fourth set point, and this time Alcaraz made no mistake as he wore down his opponent in a 13-punch exchange that ended with Sinner bludgeoning a backhand wide.
Early in the fourth set, Sinner’s survival instinct kicked in as Alcaraz attacked to earn five break points.
Unfortunately for the Spaniard, he not only failed to convert any of those chances, but then obediently gave up his own serve in the fourth game with a double fault.
But Alcaraz isn’t considered a Grand Slam champion in waiting for nothing and he showed his pedigree by saving three more match points from 15-40 while trailing 5-2.
In the following match, he even had the chance to recover the set on serve when he took a 30-40 lead on Sinner’s serve. A cruel net cord that unraveled denied Alcaraz the break and two points later Sinner was shaking his clenched fists in triumph.
Djokovic beat Dutchman Tim Van Rijthoven 6-2 4-6 6-1 6-2 in his fourth-round match to set up the clash against Sinner.