Carlos Alcaraz faces friendly fire at Wimbledon as Coco Gauff meets British outsider

Carlos Alcaraz returns a ball in his match against Frances Tiafoe at Wimbledon. Picture: Glyn Kirk / AFP

Carlos Alcaraz returns a ball in his match against Frances Tiafoe at Wimbledon. Picture: Glyn Kirk / AFP

Published Jul 5, 2024


Defending champion Carlos Alcaraz takes on close friend Frances Tiafoe in the Wimbledon third round on Friday while Coco Gauff tackles British outsider Sonay Kartal in a collision of two different tennis worlds.

"Once you step on the court, players are not friends. You have to focus on yourself, and try to beat him. That's how tennis works," said Alcaraz, who is bidding to become only the sixth man to win the French Open and Wimbledon back-to-back.

The Spanish star defeated Tiafoe in a five-set classic in the US Open semi-finals in 2022 on his way to his first Grand Slam title.

"Frances, a great player, a great person as well. He always smiles. He always seems like he's enjoying his time on the court, off the court as well," added third seed Alcaraz in admiration.

Tiafoe, the world number 29, is in the Wimbledon third round for a fourth successive year.

He needed five sets to see off Italy's Matteo Arnaldi in the first round before cruising past Borna Coric.

With two wins under his belt at the All England Club, it is the first time the 26-year-old has put together consecutive victories at tour level since April.

World number one Jannik Sinner, who needed four gruelling sets to defeat Italian compatriot Matteo Berrettini in the second round, turns his attention to Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia as he seeks a last-16 place.

Australian Open champion Sinner was a beaten semi-finalist at Wimbledon in 2023.

In the money

US Open champion and world number two Gauff takes on Kartal, who has defied her humble ranking of 298 to reach the third round of a Slam for the first time.

The players inhabit different worlds on the tennis tour.

When Gauff was starting her US Open title push in August last year, Kartal was picking up just $550 for losing in a low-level ITF event in Prague.

Gauff has already banked over $2.6 million this year from prize money.

Kartal arrived at the All England Club with just over $18,500 from her 2024 efforts but her progress to the last 32 at Wimbledon has guaranteed her a windfall of more than $182,000.

Gauff has been in impressive form this week, dropping just six games in two matches

With a combined age of 70, two of the sport's great entertainers meet for a place in the last 16 with Gael Monfils facing Grigor Dimitrov.

Monfils, the 37-year-old dazzling and unorthodox Frenchman, played in his first main draw at the All England Club in 2005 while Dimitrov made his bow four years later.

Surprisingly for players of such longevity, the two have only met five times, with Monfils holding a 4-1 advantage, including winning the pair's two Grand Slam meetings at the US Open, in 2011 and 2014.

Monfils made the last 16 at Wimbledon in 2018 while Dimitrov, 33, reached the semi-finals 10 years ago, defeating Andy Murray in the last eight before losing to Novak Djokovic.

Two former US Open women's champions attempt to reach the fourth round.

Britain's Emma Raducanu takes on Greek ninth seed Maria Sakkari, whom she defeated in the semi-finals in New York on her way to the 2021 US Open title.

Injury-plagued Bianca Andreescu of Canada, the 2019 US Open winner, takes on Roland Garros runner-up and seventh-ranked Jasmine Paolini.