Alcaraz, Sinner into Wimbledon last-eight as tearful Keys quits

Carlos Alcaraz in action. File photo

Defending champion Carlos Alcaraz survived a scare to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals on Sunday, while world number one Jannik Sinner eased into the last eight for a third successive year.

Injured American Madison Keys quit her last-16 clash against Jasmine Paolini in floods of tears after having been one game from victory as Donna Vekic overcame three rain interruptions to reach the quarter-finals for the first time.

World number three Alcaraz defeated French 16th seed Ugo Humbert 6-3, 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 to make the last-eight of a Grand Slam for the ninth time in just 14 appearances.

However, it was another uncomfortable afternoon for the Spaniard, who had needed five sets to see off Frances Tiafoe in the third round.

His erratic performance on Sunday saw him drop serve five times and commit an uncharacteristic 33 unforced errors.

The 21-year-old, bidding to become just the sixth man to win the French Open and Wimbledon back-to-back, eased through the first set under the Centre Court roof before crucially saving four break points in the fifth game of the second.

Humbert stormed back, breaking the champion three times in the third set as Alcaraz went spectacularly off the boil.

Alcaraz was twice unable to hold onto breaks in the fourth set and had to fend off three break points in the eighth game to stay level at 4-4.

Left-hander Humbert then lost his bearings to hand over a service break in the 11th game and Alcaraz took full advantage to quickly seal the tie.

‘Fight to last ball’

“I will be there, fighting until the last ball,” said Alcaraz, who is chasing a fourth Grand Slam title.

Alcaraz will take on either American 12th seed Tommy Paul or 36-year-old compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut, a semi-finalist in 2019.

Over on Court One, top seed Sinner moved into the last-eight with a 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (11/9) win over American 14th seed Ben Shelton.

Sinner, who won his maiden Slam crown at the Australian Open this year, will face Russian fifth seed Daniil Medvedev for a place in the semi-finals in a rematch of their final in Melbourne.

Sinner’s best performance at Wimbledon came in 2023 when he lost to Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.

“It was a tough match, especially the third set. I had to keep saving set points. These matches can go long but I was glad to close it in three,” said the Italian.

Medvedev, a semi-finalist last year, progressed when 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov retired in the first set with a knee injury.

“Jannik’s beaten me the last five times, but this will be the first time we’ve played on grass,” said Medvedev.

“It’ll be an interesting match and I will give 100%.”

US 12th seed Keys was just one game away from a third quarter-final at the All England Club before she was forced to quit against Paolini.

After dropping the first set to the seventh seed Italian, Keys hit back to level the match at 3-6, 7-6 (8/6).

The 2017 US Open runner-up then raced into a 5-2 lead in the decider when she suffered a left leg injury in the eighth game.

At 5-4, she took a medical time-out, returned with her left leg bandaged but with her movement severely restricted, she wept openly on court before quitting at 5-5.

Paolini will face reigning US Open champion and second seed Coco Gauff or 19th seed Emma Navarro for a place in the semi-finals.

‘It’s sad’

“I’m very sorry for her. It’s sad,” said French Open runner-up Paolini, who had never won a grass-court match until two weeks ago.

Three years after her historic US Open title, Emma Raducanu is attempting to become Britain’s first Wimbledon women’s champion since 1977.

The British star, now ranked 135, faces Lulu Sun, the first New Zealand woman in the fourth round since 1959.

If she gets through that, she will face Donna Vekic, the world number 37 from Croatia who clinched a 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 win over Spain’s Paula Badosa.

Vekic and Badosa fought through three rain suspensions out on Court Two before the Croatian’s 33 winners proved decisive.

“We’ve been here since 8:30 this morning and it’s now almost 7pm. It’s been a very long day,” said Vekic.

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