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Alcaraz, Sinner on course for epic Wimbledon showdown

Champion Carlos Alcaraz and world No.1 Jannik Sinner, the dynamic young duo tipped to dominate men's tennis for years to come, have roared to within one match of the showdown that Wimbledon is itching to see.

There was rich entertainment on the two main courts as the pair roared into the quarter-finals on Sunday, complete with show-stopping winners and astonishing all-court athleticism.

First, while the rain beat down deafeningly on the Centre Court roof, Alcaraz flattened an attempted comeback from Ugo Humbert to defeat the talented French left-hander 6-3 6-4 1-6 7-5 on Centre Court.

Alcaraz
Carlos Alcaraz got involved with some brilliant retrieving from difficult positions. (AP PHOTO)

On No.1 Court, Sinner then disposed of the very dangerous, monster-serving US left-hander Ben Shelton 6-2 6-4 7-6 (11-9) but needed to save four set points in the third set before setting up a last-eight meeting.

The pair still have demanding quarter-final dates first, with Alcaraz to next face American Tommy Paul, the Queen's Club champion who's now on a nine-match winning streak after his 6-2 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 victory over Spanish veteran Roberto Bautista Agut.

Australian Open champ Sinner also won't find it easy against his Melbourne final opponent Daniil Medvedev, who had a surprise 40-minute passage after the unfortunate Grigor Dimitrov slipped, needed a medical time-out, soldiered on but eventually had to retire at 5-3 down in the opening set.

Still, it would be hard to bet against Alcaraz and Sinner setting up another of the duels which have already captivated the sport, most recently at Roland Garros when the Spaniard Alcaraz downed the Italian in five sets in the French Open semi-final en route to his third grand slam triumph.

Their victories were accompanied by some memorable exchanges, none more spectacular than in the second set when the 21-year-old twice had to scramble along the baseline and even pick himself off the floor to chase down a seemingly irretrievable shot. Yet, still, he somehow contrived to win the crucial point.

Asked how he would describe the rally, Alcaraz beamed to the crowd afterwards: "Unbelievable, I guess." He wasn't wrong.

Humbert, a buccaneering left-hander who got beaten by Nick Kyrgios in a dazzling five-setter at SW19 in 2021, was brilliant at times, outplaying the champion in a third-set revival and even earning three break points for a 5-3 lead in the fourth.

Yet Alcaraz bounced back to take victory, saying that he felt he'd played at "a really high level."

Now Alcaraz is calling on his national soccer team to repeat another Spanish triumph over France in the Euro 2024 semi-final on Tuesday, the same day that he'll be in action in his quarter-final.

Shelton
Ben Shelton had his moments in the third set before he finally succumbed to Jannik Sinner. (AP PHOTO)

"Hopefully they're going to get the same result as me today," smiled Alcaraz.

"I won in the tennis part, so hopefully the Spanish team are going to win the football part."

Sinner was exceptional too, even if he admitted his best show-stopping shot was actually just a stroke of luck.

That was in the third set when, during his fightback from 4-1 down, he somehow managed to squeeze the ball over the net with an instinctive tweener on the backfoot before following up with a forehand cross-court winner.

The Italian rescued one set point at 6-5 and three more in the tie-break, before Shelton, the joint-fastest server at the Championships at 140mph, eventually double-faulted.