LONDON : Defending Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz returned to the semi-finals with an enthralling comeback on Tuesday but there will be no blockbuster showdown with Jannik Sinner after the world number one was dragged the distance and dumped out.

Having taken his Grand Slam tally to three at the French Open last month, Alcaraz pushed on in his quest to retain a major trophy for the first time and cement his big-league status by rallying past American Tommy Paul 5-7 6-4 6-2 6-2.

“When I’m not playing my best tennis, I’m going to try to find solutions just to be a bit better and beat the opponent,” said Spaniard Alcaraz.

“Sometimes it’s going to be difficult to do it but sometimes, like in these matches, I didn’t play brilliant but I played enough just to (win) the match.”

The clash between the two most recent Queen’s Club champions still produced some breathtaking shot-making on Court One before Paul’s bid to end a 21-year U.S. wait for a men’s Grand Slam champion faded.

“I’m really happy to be back in the semi-finals here. Really happy about the level that I’m playing,” added Alcaraz, who was still in a crib when American Andy Roddick won the U.S. Open title in 2003.

Sinner is another of the men’s tour’s young guns who was heavily backed to succeed at the grasscourt Grand Slam after his breakthrough Australian Open triumph and a potential encounter with Alcaraz had left fans excited following the draw.

The ailing 22-year-old came crashing down to earth against fifth seed Daniil Medvedev in a rematch of their Melbourne Park title clash, however, a sobering result that snapped a run of five straight wins over the Russian.

BRAVE FIGHT

Sinner put up a brave fight under the Centre Court roof after a timeout due to illness but the Italian was unable to prevent a 6-7(7) 6-4 7-6(4) 2-6 6-3 defeat.

“This morning I didn’t feel great. I had some problems. Then with the fatigue, it was tough,” said Sinner.

“But take nothing away from Daniil. He played smart. Played good tennis. That’s it … It wasn’t an easy moment.

“I tried to fight with that what I had today.”

Sinner’s compatriot Jasmine Paolini was grinning from ear to ear on the main showcourt after her utterly dominant performance against American 19th seed Emma Navarro later on Tuesday.

The seventh seed cruised to a 6-2 6-1 victory in 58 minutes on another damp day at Wimbledon to set up a meeting with Croatian Donna Vekic, who ended the extraordinary run of 123rd ranked qualifier Lulu Sun.

Vekic had serious doubts about the durability of her knee after surgery in 2021 and considered quitting, but she now finds herself in a maiden semi-final on the grandest stage.

“Those couple of years were tough,” said Vekic, reflecting on the period after her surgery.

“Now, reaching my best result ever at a Grand Slam, I’m really proud of myself, of the work that I’ve done, of the work that my team has done.”

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