Carlos Alcaraz outlasts Frances Tiafoe at Wimbledon for five-set victory

The No. 3 seed rallied to win the final two sets

Frances Tiafoe in action against Carlos Alcaraz (not pictured) on day five of the 2024 Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London. Picture date: Friday July 5, 2024. (Photo by Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images)
Frances Tiafoe lost a five-set match to Carlos Alcaraz for the second time in two years. (Photo by Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images)

Whenever Carlos Alcaraz and Frances Tiafoe match up, it's a battle. Friday's third-round contest at Wimbledon's center court was no exception with the two going back and forth for nearly four hours.

Alcaraz, the No. 3 seed and defending Wimbledon champion, avoided an upset loss and becoming the highest men's seed to lose so far, rallying to defeat Tiafoe 5-7, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-2.

For Tiafoe, the No. 29 seed, the win over Alcaraz would have been the biggest in his career and another impressive win for an American at the 2024 tournament. Alas, it's the second time in two years that he's lost a five-set match to Alcaraz. The two players previously played a five-set match at the 2022 U.S. Open, with Alcaraz prevailing 6-7(8-6), 6-3, 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-3.

Beating Alcaraz would also have been a notable rebound from a recent path that saw Tiafoe drop from a top-10 ranking to No. 29 in the world rankings coming into Wimbledon. A victory would have been even more dramatic with Tiafoe struggling with a sprained right knee on which he's been wearing a sleeve.

Alcaraz forced a must-win tie-break in the fourth set, finally catching up with Tiafoe's serve after having difficulty with it throughout the match.

"There were a lot of difficult moments in the fourth set. All I was thinking was 'OK, fight one more ball,'" Alcaraz said after the match. "I was just thinking about the next ball and the tie-break I told myself I had to go for it. If I lose it, I lose it. I went for it all the time and it is good for myself to get through once again."

The rally appeared to have worn out Tiafoe, who had little left for the deciding fifth set. Meanwhile, the crowd at Center Court — which included Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes — seemed to give Alcaraz a boost with its boisterous support.

History was certainly on Alcaraz's side once the match went to a fifth set. The Spaniard is 12-1 for his career in five-set matches and has won his last nine. That includes defeating Novak Djokovic in last year's final.

Alcaraz has won his past 10 matches at Wimbledon. In the fourth round, he will face either America's Brandon Nakashima or France's Ugo Humbert as he pursues a fourth Grand Slam title.