Wimbledon: Norrie marches on, Alvarez and Jabeur in action – live!

Goodness me! The power Alcaraz imparts on a flat forehand cross-court winner for 3-2! But neither man can force the mini-break while, on Centre, Jabeur breaks Mertens in the opening game of the match.

Decent backhand slice approach from Alcaraz, but Sinner powers a backhand winner down the line for 1-1. This is the best I’ve ever seen him play, by far, but Alcaraz has improved through the match and we’re soon at 2-2.

Sinner whizzes through a hold of his own, so we’ve got waselves a breaker and you’ve got to fancy him to win it because his fundamentals – serving and receiving – have been so strong today. But a couple of brilliant points can blow both away, and Alcaraz is more than capable of those.

Back on Centre, Sinner is about to serve at 5-6 in set three. We’ve not seen much to make us think he’ll be broken, but the love-hold through which Alcaraz just powered has given him the scent of momentum.

Mertens and Jabeur, both of them sniffing a chance to do damage given the state of the draw, arrive onto No1 Court. Looking down it, I’m wishing I’d have deposited a few pounds on Halep to win again.

Eeesh, Alcaraz thinks he’s held for 5-4 in the third via big forehand, but Sinner challenges … and we see the edge of the ball land on the baseline. Still, he’s still returning superbly, so you’d fancy him in a breaker – if we get that far.

Next on No1: Mertens [24] v Jabeaur [3].

Nozzer accepts the applause of the crowd and says playing in front of his family and mates is a great feeling. He’s really happy with how he played today and notes “a lot of feelings” – that’s a lovely phrase – saying he’s the last one left, so people should get behind him even more. He was playing a lot of scenarios serving for the match, but No1 Court helped him through it, and he says in general he’s improved a lot since first playing at Wimbledon in 2017 when he was impatient and “chopped up” by Tsonga. Grass isn’t his favourite surface, but he’s loving life, and has every chance of making the last four.

Cameron Norrie [9] beats Tommy Paul [30] 6-4 7-5 6-4!

Another disquietingly competent dismissal from the Britsh no1, so he meets Goffin next. And, good though Goffin is, he might never get a better chance to make the last four of a slam.

at 40-30, Alcaraz chucks everything at a forehand volley, taken early out of the air when he didn’t really need to, goes wide, and his smile as he contemplates deuce is almost one of resignation – though he powers through to hold. Meantime, Norrie prepares to serve for the match, and who knows how far he can go – with no Zverev or Medvedev, plus Berrettini coronad and Alcaraz on the verge, this is chance for him and all the others left in the draw. I can’t remember the last time a last-eight looked as weak.

Norrie is nearly there, holding for 5-3 in set three. Paul must hold then break to stay in the competition.

Alcaraz hoists a decent lob … only for Sinner to run around it and have the speed, composure and the presence of mind to caress a backhand winner cross-court. Sinner holds to love, again, and we’re 3-3 in the third.

On Sinner, Calvin Betton, our resident coach, notes that his ball-striking is superb, but beyond that, he’s not really got the tools to do more than execute his Plan A – his hands aren’t great and he can’t really lock-down and defend, so he doesn’t have a way to win beyond hitting lots of winners. Which, so far today, is enough; he leads Alcaraz 6-1 6-4 2-2.

Physicist Brian Cox watching Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz
Physicist Brian Cox watching Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Goffin is such an athlete and such a competitor, and he’s tired but happy to be in the quarters, especially after a tough year fighting injury. He’s not played at SW19 since 2019, and says it’s incredible to be playing on a surface he loves at a tournament he loves. As has become the tradition, he’s handed a leading question in order to praise the crowd – I’m choking up here – and nothing that prompts him to explain something we might not’ve noticed about the match, or how he might prepare for his next one.

Please don’t think I’m lapsing into petty patriotism, but if you’d offered Norrie – who’s broken Paul to lead 6-4 7-5 2-1 – a match with Goffin to make the last four, I’m pretty sure he’d’ve took it.

David Goffin beats Francis Tiafoe [23] 7-6(3) 5-7 5-7 6-4 7-5!

That was an absolutely glorious struggle, four hours 35 minutes all-told, and it’s Goffin who progresses to the last eight where he’ll meet Norrie or Paul.

Belgium’s David Goffin celebrates winning his fourth round match against Frances Tiafoe
Belgium’s David Goffin celebrates winning his fourth round match against Frances Tiafoe Photograph: Paul Childs/Reuters

Alcaraz has been outplayed so far today, but he’s still in there fighting his arse off; Sinner makes 0-40 and looks a lock to break at the first time of asking for the third set in a row. But the number 5 seed hangs in there, holding for 1-0; the question, though, is whether he can devise a method to take Sinner out of his comfort zone.

Tiafoe raises two break points … and Goffin taxes the first with an ace down the middle, then also saves the second before closing out. He leads 6-5, meaning Tiafoe must now serve for a super-breaker.

Sinner zones a backhand slice cross-court, Alcaraz tries to respond in kind and nets! Sinner leads 6-1 6-4 and Alcaraz needs to find something here, because he’s barely in this.

Tiafoe nods vigorously at the crowd after ending a tremendous rally with a magical forehand/backhand down the line combo move, split by a wondrous get from Goffin. That’s 5-5, and four hours 28 minutes they’ve been at it.

Sinner is making everything difficult for Alcaraz here; he holds for 4-5, but at 30-all Sinner had a potential put-away down the line only to net. Still, he’ll have to serve for set two, and we’ve seen nothing to make us think he’ll muff it up.

Photograph: John Walton/PA

Norrie’s swinging, topspinning forehand is just a bit much for Tommy Paul, and he clinches set two at the second time of serving to lead 6-4 7-5. Meanwhile, Sinner holds to lead Alcaraz 6-1 5-3.

Oh Tommy Paul! Set-point down, he hooks a forehand wide, and it’s now Norrie to serve for the second set at 6-4 6-5.

Tommy Paul eyes the ball as he returns it to Cameron Norrie.
Tommy Paul eyes the ball as he returns it to Cameron Norrie. Photograph: Sébastien Bozon/AFP/Getty Images

Sinner opens body and shoulders to cream an inside-out forehand cross-court for 0-30; Alcaraz fights back for 30-all, then unleashes the wide serve followed by the clean-up forehand into the opposite corner. He quickly closes for 3-4 while, on Court 2, it’s now 3-3 in the decider.

Well done Tommy Paul! Norrie curls a forehand into the net, and that’s the break-back for 5-5 in set two!

On Court 2, Goffin leads Tiafoe 3-2 in their decider – this struggle, by the way, is for a last-eight match against Norrie or Paul. On which point, and as Sinner holds to love for 6-1 4-2, Norrie begins serving for set two at 5-4.

Alcaraz is playing better now, a particularly toothsome forehand to the corner helping him hold for 2-3. But that 2-0 game apart, Sinner is holding pretty comfortably.

Back on Court 1, it’s still Norrie in charge, leading 6-4 4-2. He’s never done better than round three of a major, so making the last eight would be huge for him, and a message to the rest that he’s not a decent player on a run, this is now his standard.

Cameron Norrie is comfortable on Court 1.
Cameron Norrie is comfortable on Court 1. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Oof madone, Alcaraz serves out wide and Sinner steps, stretches, and punishes a forehand return cross-court for a glorious winner. So Alcaraz destroys one of his own down the line, backs it up with an ace, and he’s on the board in set two.

Sinner hangs on for 2-0, and that hold will give him just as much pleasure as his superb play in that first set – if he’s to win this, he’ll need to fight his arse off, because he and we can be sure Alcaraz will make him. He leads 6-1 2-0.

Meantime, after fighting back to 4-5 from 1-5, Tiafoe is broken by Goffin! They’ve been going nearly four hours, and will now flog themselves through the decider we deserve!

Alcaraz, normally so animated on court, looks extremely hangdog as Sinner breaks him at the start of set two; he needs to find an answer here, but the look on his kipper says he doesn’t know what the questions are. Still he gets himself 15-30, only for Sinner to uncork some forehand violence, then slide those spindly legs to the net for the volley that makes 40-30. He can’t put away the next, though, after a fine backhand sets it up, and when he clouts long from the back, Alcaraz has a break-back point to get himself into the match. He can’t take it, another vicious Sinner forehand landing on the line and forcing the error.

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain.
Carlos Alcaraz of Spain. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Norrie is too good for Paul and he now leads 6-4 2-1, with a break. He’s running around his forehand really well, especially when hitting down the line, and I can’t imagine him not taking this.

A colossal serve seals a 31-minute set 6-1 in Sinner’s favour. He’s playing superbly here, especially on the return, and Alcaraz is in trouble.

Jannik Sinner has dominated Alcarez in the opening set.
Jannik Sinner has dominated Alcarez in the opening set. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA

Alreet, Tiafoe racks up three break-back points, and you fancy that if he converts one – he needs two – he’ll see this out without recourse to a decider. But Goffin is so tough you just can’t be sure, and he still leads 5-4 in set four.

Sinner looks good so far, consolidating for 4-1, but Goffin can’t close out, broken by Tiafoe for 5-2. And as I type that, Sinner gets himself 15-40; Alcaraz saves the first double-break point with a big serve, but running around the backhand to ram down the line, he strays wide! Sinner, who is brilliant against all bar the top 10 – it’s a couple of years, I think, since he beat anyone in it – now leads the number five seed 5-1 and will now serve for a rapid first set.

Norrie holds to love and takes the first set 6-4, but Paul is playing nicely enough and won’t be going anywhere – like David Goffin, who breaks Tiafoe again for 5-1. One more hold and we’ve got ourselves a decider.

Cameron Norrie takes the first set.
Cameron Norrie takes the first set. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA

On Centre, Sinner and Alcaraz are away, Alcaraz facing his first break point and fading a drop into the net with down the line open! Sinner leads 3-1, and his excellent returning is bang on-point so far today.

Goffin the Boffin, as he was no doubt called at l’ecole, is still in front in set four, leasing Tiafoe – who leads him 2-1 – 4-1. Meanwhile on No1, Paul struggles through a hold that forces Norrie to serve for set one at 5-4.

Back on Court 2, Tiafoe gets the trainer out, then loses the first three games of set four. Goffin ain’t going no place.

I just saw an advert that talked about “haitch are”. How far we done fell.

Break point down, Norrie winds up on a forehand and saves himself, then a monstrous one down the line does likewise – that’s Paul’s fourth go at clawing back, and also his last for this game. Norrie hangs tough, and now leads 4-2.

Yup, Tiafoe serves out to 15 and leads (3)6-7 7-5 7-5. He was barely in Goffin’s service games at the start of the set but eventually forced an opportunity and when his opponent tightened, snaffled it fast.

Frances Tiafoe leads Goffin.
Frances Tiafoe leads Goffin. Photograph: Neil Hall/EPA

Or not! Tiafoe plays an excellent break point, Goffin nervously going short on the forehand to allow a booming forehand down the line backed up with a cute backhand, and yerman will now serve for the third set at 6-5!

Norrie, who I must say I never expected to get as good as he’s got, breaks Paul early doors and leads 3-1 in set one; Goffin and Tiafoe, meanwhile, are 5-5 in set three and heading for their second breaker.

Cameron Norrie gets an early break.
Cameron Norrie gets an early break. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA

Next on Centre, the indisputable match of the day and potential match of the fortnight: Jannik Sinner [10] v Carlos Alcaraz [5].

Jule Niemeier beats Heather Watson 6-2 6-4!

She was just too good today, overpowering her opponent, and at 22, playing her first Wimbledon, she reaches her first major quarter-final – it’s easy is this! She meets Maria next, and will strongly fancy her chances of reaching the last four; I strongly fancy them too.

Jule Niemeier was just too strong today.
Jule Niemeier was just too strong today. Photograph: James Veysey/Shutterstock
Jule Niemeier celebrates after winning in straight sets against Heather Watson.
Jule Niemeier celebrates after winning in straight sets against Heather Watson. Photograph: Hannah McKay/Reuters

…and Watson saves that too, Niemeier playing safe when running in – she could monster a winner but instead plays a deep one down the middle, only to be on the receiving end of a terrific lob! Can she build?

Matchpoint down, Watson keeps the ball in play long enough for Niemeier to panel a forehand into the net. But she soon raises another on advantage….

Norrie and Paul are away, the little BBC graphic saying the former’s weakness was his lack of an obvious weapon. That is fair, if being left doesn’t count.

Watson holds for 2-6 4-5, forcing Niemeier to serve for it…

Do not mind if we do! Badosa v Halep should also be a belter.

Nick Kyrgios gets a Centre Court slot tomorrow. First on at 1:30pm against Brandon Nakashima, followed by Badosa vs Halep and Nadal vs Van De Zandschlup #Wimbledon

— Stuart Fraser (@stu_fraser) July 3, 2022

Not sure how I’ve missed this until now, but Cameron Norrie, now knocking up with Tommy Paul on No1, is sporting a minor but very definite mullet. I’ve a new-found respect.

Tiafoe and Goffin have sped things up, the service games disappearing rather than moving between deuce and advantage; the latter leads 3-2, but of course as I type that, Tiafoe saves two break points. On Centre, Niemeier has just broken, then hauled herself back from 0-30 down to consolidate; at 6-2 5-3, she’s a game away from Maria in the last eight.

Email! “Nice to see Edberg and many other former champions earlier,” begins Simon McMahon,” and well done you for missing the BBC coverage prior to them being introduced. It was awful. Excruciatingly so. I could barely watch. I mean, Cliff Richard singing Summer Holiday?! Pictures of the Royal Box. Barker and McEnroe making Johnson and Sunak look competent. Whoever came up with the idea needs to take a long hard look in the mirror. And should have been told ‘You cannot be serious’.”

Part of it was quite nice – I can’t ever complain about seeing the champs of my childhood – but as you say, aspects of it were so cloying I had to shed a layer of skin.

Here come the champs.
Here come the champs. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

On Court 2, we’re on serve in set three, Goffin leading Tiafoe 2-1, as we are on Centre in set two, Watson leading Niemeier 3-2.

David Goffin plays a return to Tiafoe.
David Goffin plays a return to Tiafoe. Photograph: Shutterstock

Ons Jabeur is now the only top-20 seed left in the top half of the draw. We’ll see her a bit later – she meets the 24th, Elise Mertens – while next on No1, it’s Cameron Norrie [9] v Tommy Paul [30].

“Oh my God!” says Maria. “It makes me so proud to be a mum, it’s the best thing in the world and I love my kids so much!” Aw!


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