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Defector Up All Night

Nice One, Charlie

Carlos Alcaraz plays a backhand at Wimbledon.
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The higher the stakes of the point, the harder Carlos Alcaraz seems to want to style on his opponent. Every set of his Wimbledon first-round match on Monday wound down in high-pressure fashion. The No. 5 seed drew Jan-Lennard Struff, a 6-foot-4 German returning from injury, whose current world ranking of No. 155 undersells his dangerous game. Struff threw down bazooka serves, rushed the net, and generally imposed size and power on the match in every way possible. To open the fourth-set tiebreak, Struff secured an immediate mini-break. A few more big serves would’ve completed a massive upset. That’s when Alcaraz did that thing he does: Showcase the cartoonish speed in his legs and creativity in his racquet in one novelty winner, and then laugh to himself, because he’s having such a good time. Tossed all over the court by Struff’s power, the 19-year-old sprinted down a drop shot to whip a one-handed backhand pass. He’d take that tiebreak, and eventually the match, 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4, to extend his second Wimbledon campaign.

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