CNN
 — 

For most players, a deciding fifth set is an ordeal to be endured, a moment when the match rests on a knife edge and all the fatigue from the previous four sets must be put aside for one last effort.

But for Carlos Alcaraz, it is so often a moment when he unleashes his best tennis and dispatches his opponents with a languid ease – a quality he once again displayed on Friday when he defeated American Frances Tiafoe 5-7 6-2 4-6 7-6(7-2) 6-2 in a five-set thriller in their third-round Wimbledon clash.

The defending Wimbledon champion has now won a remarkable 12 matches in five sets and lost just one.

“(Those statistics are) an advantage for me,” he told reporters afterwards. “That’s why I am feeling really, really well physically, and in those situations, I play at my high level.”

“In the fifth set, I think I increase my tennis, my level,” the No. 3 seed added. “I’m feeling much better than the opponent physically, mentally. I know that the other guy has to play a really high level of tennis if he wants to beat me. That helps me a lot to feel better.”

Alcaraz celebrates winning against Frances Tiafoe.

Tiafoe won the first set, breaking Alcaraz at 5-5 when the Spaniard was unable to cope with one of his deep returns, before holding his own serve to seal his lead.

Alcaraz retaliated in the second to level the increasingly entertaining match, but he was unable to capitalize on this momentum as Tiafoe took the third set, finding his form after a difficult season in which he has slid down the rankings to become the world No. 29.

Then, at 4-4 in the fourth set, Alcaraz found himself 0-30 down on his serve and in real danger of crashing out of the tournament before he took an important hold and dragged the set to a tiebreak where he unleashed a series of powerful groundstrokes to once again level the match.

And Alcaraz completed the comeback in the fifth to win his 10th consecutive match at Wimbledon and advance to the fourth round where he will face either Ugo Humbert or Brandon Nakashima.

“Just ultimate respect,” Tiafoe joked afterwards, according to Reuters. “Him just saying, ‘It’s good to see you play like that.’ Me just saying, ‘I can’t stand you!’ I told him to go for another great run.”

Coco Gauff celebrates defeating Sonay Kartal.

Elsewhere, No. 2 seed Coco Gauff reached the fourth round as she swept aside British qualifier Sonay Kartal 6-4 6-0 on Friday.

“This was my first time ever playing a British player here, so I was honestly a bit nervous, as I knew you guys would support her, which is totally understandable,” Gauff said in her on-court interview afterwards. “Thankfully, you guys are pretty nice to me.”

Another former US Open champion, Emma Raducanu, also reached the fourth round with an impressive 6-2 6-3 victory over Maria Sakkari, as she enjoys her best grand slam tournament since that triumph in Flushing Meadows in 2021.



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