Wimbledon recap day 7: Carlos Alcaraz's highlight reel and Lulu Sun's story

Welcome to the Wimbledon briefing, where The Athletic will explain the stories behind the stories on each day of the tournament.

On day seven of Wimbledon 2024, Carlos Alcaraz showed off his tennis diet, Lulu Sun kept building her story, and Daniil Medvedev set up a rematch.

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How does Carlos Alcaraz feed off his own genius?

To really feel good on a tennis court, Carlos Alcaraz needs to play points that get the crowd off their seats. Against Ugo Humbert on Sunday, two such points arrived — and at the perfect times.

Alcaraz was set point up with the chance to build a two-set lead but his chance looked to have gone when he slipped over a few feet behind the baseline and in line with the tramlines.

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Somehow he got up to hit this shot…

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And then this one…

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Humbert missed his volley, Alcaraz had the set, and the crowd erupted.

The reigning champion then suffered a let-down. He lost the third set 6-1 and went on a run of losing four service games in a row. That was about to become six out of seven when Alcaraz trailed 3-4, 0-40. Suddenly the defending champion was on the brink of a fifth set. “I don’t know what to do,” the outplayed Spaniard had said to his box during this period as he struggled.

But then Alcaraz went supernova. He saved those three break points to hold, and then he held again for 5-5 — after producing a running forehand pass that had the crowd on their feet once more.

Alcaraz has a preternatural ability to raise his game which is idiosyncratic as his tennis: he feeds off his own genius, not the edge of an opponent or the situation.

From the moment he hit that shot, the result was never in doubt. He then won the next two games to take the match and reach the quarterfinals, and an encounter with Tommy Paul.

— Charlie Eccleshare

Can Lulu Sun write a new chapter in her Wimbledon fairytale?

Even in an international sport like tennis, Wimbledon quarterfinalist Lulu Sun has quite some heritage. The 23-year-old, who beat Emma Raducanu to reach the last eight on Sunday, has a Chinese mother, a Croatian father but since March has played under the flag of New Zealand where she was born. Prior to that she represented Switzerland where she moved aged five. Sun also has an English stepfather, who is from Devon.

Sun has rewritten some records with her run here. Ranked No. 123, she is the first qualifier to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals since 2010. She’s also the second-lowest ranked player to reach the last eight in the last 15 editions of the tournament.

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Sun is making only her second main draw appearance at a Grand Slam. (Julian Finney / Getty Images)

Could she go even further? Sun next faces a fellow unseeded player in Donna Vekic, who will have all the expectation on her shoulders given her much greater Grand Slam pedigree. Whereas Sun can continue to play with house money — much like Raducanu did to win the US Open as a qualifier three years ago.

Sun, an endearing personality who couldn’t believe how packed the media room was after her third-round win against Zhu Lin, might need to start getting used to the attention. She’s been one of the stories of the Championships so far, and it could be about to get even better.

— Charlie Eccleshare

Will Daniil Medvedev feel the fresher against Jannik Sinner this time round?

How would Daniil Medvedev have fared against Jannik Sinner in January’s Australian Open final if he hadn’t spent a record amount of time on court during that event?

How much better a chance of turning his two-set lead into a second Grand Slam title would he have had without three five-setters in his legs (including a 3.40 a.m. finish) going into the final?

We’ll never know, but we will at least get a re-run of that five-set final that Sinner won in a Wimbledon quarterfinal on Tuesday — and this time around, Medvedev will come in with far fewer miles on the clock.

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Medvedev has mostly flown under the radar in his progress to the last eight. (Adam Pretty / Getty Images)

He was only on court for 40 minutes on Sunday, after his opponent Grigor Dimitrov retired hurt in the first set of their fourth-round match, and the Russian is yet to play a five-set match at these championships. It should mean he is able to match Sinner physically on Tuesday, and try and outlast him in a way he knew he couldn’t in Melbourne.

Back then Medvedev went for the jugular in the first couple of sets in a way that is typical for his game style, but he couldn’t sustain it and allowed Sinner to creep further forward into the court and then up the scoreboard.

Sinner, for his part, only needed a little over two hours in beating Ben Shelton in his fourth-round match on Sunday — a player who had three five-setters in his legs going into their clash — so he’ll also be feeling good. It’s all set up for an exciting rematch between the two losing semifinalists from last year’s Wimbledon.

— Charlie Eccleshare

Will Jasmine Paolini’s remarkable run ever end?

The Italian No. 7 seed probably knows that she got away with one a little bit against Madison Keys. Not in the first set, when she defied Keys’ attempts to kick serves out of her strike zone and groundstrokes into her shoulders, flattening out balls rising past her nose into the court. And not even in the second, when she dragged her back to a tiebreak instead of acquiescing into a third.

It was in the third, at 2-5 down, when she benefited first from a slightly late line call, and then from Keys injuring her left leg, that Paolini might feel she got the rub of the green on the grass. That’s not to say that Paolini, who is into her second Grand Slam quarterfinal in as many tournaments, doesn’t deserve it.

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Paolini’s dextrous game suits the grass.(Rob Newell / Camerasport via Getty Images)

Like many of this week’s success stories, Paolini has the variety and guile in her game to work with the grass, rather than against it, and it was on full display against Keys throughout. Next up is Emma Navarro, whose rock-solid tennis — and own use of variety, with a backhand slice that works like a rest in music — will make for an intriguing few sets of tennis.

— James Hansen

No, you hit it harder of the day

Donna Vekic and Paula Badosa’s match was delayed four times by rain. They made the most of it when it stopped.

Wimbledon men’s draw 2024

Wimbledon women’s draw 2024

Tell us what you noticed on the seventh day …

(Top photos: Carlos Alcaraz: John Walton/ PA via Getty Images; design: Eamonn Dalton for The Athletic)

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