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Day 7 Preview: Alcaraz Meets Sinner In Heavyweight Wimbledon Clash

A battle of #NextGenATP alumni headlines the Sunday action at Wimbledon, where Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner take centre stage as the fourth-round action begins at the grass-court major in London.

The meeting between six-time champion Novak Djokovic and the in-form Dutch wild card Tim van Rijthoven is another intriguing matchup at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, while Cameron Norrie seeks to keep the British flag flying in the singles when he takes on 30th seed Tommy Paul. The American's countryman, 23rd seed Frances Tiafoe, meets 2019 quarter-finalist David Goffin.

ATPTour.com looks at the fourth-round matchups on Day 7 in the UK capital.

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[5] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) vs. [10] Jannik Sinner (ITA)

One Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals crown — check. Five ATP Tour titles — check. Two Grand Slam quarter-finals — check.

The graduation of Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner from #NextGenATP prodigy to ATP Tour champion has been strikingly similar. On Sunday, two of the brightest talents in the game will gauge their grass-court progress with a high-stakes fourth-round showdown at Wimbledon.

The champion at the season-ending finals for the world’s top 21-and-under talents in Milan last November, Alcaraz has been unstoppable in his progress in 2022. The Spaniard has won four tour-level titles, including ATP Masters 1000 crowns in Miami and Madrid, to surge to as high as No. 6 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

Sinner’s moment of glory in Milan came in 2019, a triumph he backed up with five hard-court trophies to also crack the Top 10 in late 2021. The Italian may be chasing his first title of the season, but five tour-level quarter-finals and a 30-8 record for the year reflect the consistency he has been able to find at the highest level.

Both are relative rookies on grass — it is just Alcaraz’s sixth tour-level match on the surface, and Sinner’s eighth — but results this week suggest both players are quickly getting to grips with the lawns at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.

Although it was his first match on grass this year, Alcaraz had plenty of time on court to adjust to the surface in a five-set thriller against Jan-Lennard Struff in the first round, which took four hours and 11 minutes. Lessons were learned, improvements were made, and Tallon Griekspoor and Oscar Otte were subsequently dispatched in straight sets by the 19-year-old Spaniard, who is the youngest man to reach the fourth round at SW19 since Bernard Tomic in 2011.

Sinner also had a significant hurdle to overcome in his first-round clash with Stan Wawrinka. Aside from facing a three-time Slam champion, the Italian arrived in London yet to win a tour-level match on grass. After ousting Wawrinka in four sets, the 20-year-old backed up that win by seeing off Mikael Ymer and the big-serving John Isner to seal his spot in the last 16 for the fourth consecutive Grand Slam.

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It is a second tour-level meeting for the pair, after Alcaraz defeated Sinner in their only previous ATP Head2Head meeting 7-6(1), 7-5 at last year's Rolex Paris Masters. A budding rivalry now comes to the grass in London, but both players are determined to keep their focus on their own game.

"We are both young. We are both great tennis players and good [people]," said Sinner, following his straight-sets third-round win against Isner. "But I'm not thinking so much about [the future of our rivalry]. I'm thinking about my way, where I have to go. Obviously, there is a lot of work to do."

"Obviously Jannik is a good player," said Alcaraz after his impressive performance against Halle semi-finalist Otte. "He plays unbelievable. He has a great level here on grass. He has won really good matches here, so it's going to be a really tough round.

"But obviously I'm going to enjoy [it]. Playing against Jannik is always tough. I like to play these kinds of matches, these kinds of challenges."

[NEWSLETTER FORM]

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) vs. [WC] Tim van Rijthoven (NED)

Djokovic may be used to winning at Wimbledon — the Serbian’s third-round dismantling of Miomir Kecmanovic was his 23rd in a row at the grass-court Slam — but he meets an unfamiliar face on Sunday as he aims to keep his bid for a fourth consecutive title at SW19 on track.

Prior to the Libema Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch three weeks ago, van Rijthoven had not won a match at an ATP Tour event. Yet the Dutchman stormed to the title at the ATP 250 event in his homeland, defeating Taylor Fritz, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Daniil Medvedev en route, and he has brought that form to the lawns at the All England Club on his Grand Slam debut.

After ousting Federico Delbonis, Reilly Opelka and Nikoloz Basilashvili, can van Rijthoven spring an even bigger surprise in his maiden tour-level meeting with the 20-time Grand Slam champion? He will have his work cut out if Djokovic’s past two performances against Thanasi Kokkinakis and Kecmanovic are anything to go by — the Serbian dropped just seven games in both victories.

[9] Cameron Norrie (GBR) vs. [30] Tommy Paul (USA)

Norrie is the sole remaining home hope in men’s singles at Wimbledon. The British No. 1 dealt with the home pressure on Centre Court in style against Steve Johnson in the third round, cruising past the American for the loss of just five games. He now seeks to extend his 2-1 ATP Head2Head series lead against Paul as both players make their maiden appearance in the fourth round of a Grand Slam.

Norrie is Paul’s fourth consecutive left-handed opponent on his Wimbledon main draw debut. The 30th seed has had no problems adjusting his game to the lefties so far, however, easing to straight-sets wins against Fernando Verdasco, Adrian Mannarino and Jiri Vesely in the opening rounds.

[23] Frances Tiafoe (USA) vs. David Goffin [BEL]

Frances Tiafoe is also in uncharted territory as he takes on former World No. 7 David Goffin. The American had not been past the third round at SW19 prior to this year, and he meets a man with plenty of experience at this stage. It is Goffin's fourth appearance in the last 16 at Wimbledon, where he reached the quarter-finals on his last appearance in London in 2019 before falling to eventual champion Djokovic.

The two meet for the second major in a row after Goffin prevailed in four sets in the second round at Roland Garros in late May. That triumph extended the Belgian's ATP Head2Head series lead against Tiafoe to 4-1, but can the American respond on Sunday on the Wimbledon grass?

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