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US player Madison Keys (left) cries as she leaves Centre Court after retiring from her women's singles tennis match against Italy's Jasmine Paolini following a thigh injury at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon on Sunday. Image Credit: AFP

London: Defending champion Carlos Alcaraz survived a worrying mid-match slump to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals on Sunday, while injured American Madison Keys quit her last-16 clash in floods of tears after being one game from victory.

World No 3 Alcaraz defeated French 16th seed Ugo Humbert 6-3, 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 to make the last-eight of a Grand Slam for the ninth time in just 14 appearances.

However, it was another uncomfortable afternoon for Alcaraz, who had needed five sets to see off Frances Tiafoe in the third round.

His erratic performance on Sunday saw him drop serve five times and commit an uncharacteristic 33 unforced errors.

The 21-year-old, bidding to become just the sixth man to win the French Open and Wimbledon back-to-back, eased through the first set under the Centre Court roof before crucially saving four break points in the fifth game of the second.

Humbert stormed back, breaking the champion three times in the third set as Alcaraz went spectacularly off the boil.

Alcaraz was twice unable to hold onto breaks in the fourth set and had to fend off three break points in the eighth game to stay level at 4-4.

Left-hander Humbert then lost his bearings to hand over a service break in the 11th game and Alcaraz took full advantage to quickly seal the tie.

‘Fight to last ball’

“I will be there, fighting until the last ball,” said Alcaraz, who is chasing a fourth Grand Slam title.

Alcaraz will take on either American 12th seed Tommy Paul or 36-year-old compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut, a semi-finalist in 2019.

Over on Court One, US 12th seed Madison Keys was just one game away from a third quarter-final at the All England Club when she was forced to quit against Italy’s Jasmine Paolini.

After dropping the first set to the seventh seeded Italian, Keys hit back to level the match at 3-6, 7-6 (8/6).

The 2017 US Open runner-up then raced into a 5-2 lead in the decider when she suffered a left leg injury in the eighth game.

Keys took a 10-minute medical time-out when she was leading 5-4.

The 29-year-old returned with a heavy strapping on her thigh and was distraught as she struggled to move and was immediately broken by Paolini.

Keys gamely tried to continue but, after failing to run for a Paolini drop shot, she retired with the score level at 5-5.

Paolini will face reigning US Open champion and second seed Coco Gauff or 19th seed Emma Navarro for a place in the semi-finals.

‘It’s sad’

“I’m very sorry for her. It’s sad,” said French Open runner-up Paolini, who had never won a match at Wimbledon before this year.

Three years after her historic US Open title, Emma Raducanu is attempting to become Britain’s first Wimbledon women’s champion since 1977.

The British star, now ranked 135, finds herself with a potentially clear run to the semi-finals.

On Sunday, the 21-year-old faces Lulu Sun, the first New Zealand woman in the fourth round since 1959.

If she gets through that, a quarter-final date with either Paula Badosa or Donna Vekic awaits.

Raducanu’s win over Maria Sakkari on Friday was just her second over a top 10 player — both have come in the last two weeks.

“I’m just trying to cherish every moment I have here,” said Raducanu.

On Saturday, Raducanu pulled out of the mixed doubles where she had been set to play alongside Andy Murray.

That decision meant Murray’s All England Club career ended with a whimper.

Sun, a 123rd-ranked qualifier, had played and lost her only Grand Slam match before this Wimbledon.

The 23-year-old is guaranteed to earn at least $340,000 for her efforts — more than she has made in her entire career.

Ben Shelton has made Wimbledon a family affair, reaching the fourth round 30 years after his father Bryan made the same stage.

“We’re back, big dog,” the 21-year-old American told his dad after seeing off Denis Shapovalov in the third round.

World No 1 Jannik Sinner moved into the Wimbledon quarter-finals with a 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (11/9) win over American 14th seed Ben Shelton.

Sinner survived a late flurry of pressure from Shelton on Court One as he reached the last eight at the All England Club for a third successive year.

The 22-year-old Italian top seed is bidding to win the grass-court Grand Slam for the first time.

Sinner, who won his maiden Slam crown at the Australian Open earlier this year, will face Russian fifth seed Daniil Medvedev for a place in the semi-finals.

Medvedev was given a free pass into the quarter-finals as Grigor Dimitrov was forced to quit their fourth round clash due to injury. With Medvedev ahead 5-3 in the first set on Court One, Bulgarian 10th seed Dimitrov opted to retire as he struggled to move freely. Dimitrov had suffered what looked like a knee injury when he slipped after racing into a 3-0 lead.

He took a medical timeout before unsuccessfully trying to carry on playing.

Former US Open champion Medvedev will face world number one Jannik Sinner for a place in the semi-finals.

The 28-year-old reached the semi-finals last year in his best run at the All England Club before losing to eventual champion Carlos Alcaraz.

Vekic into quarters for first time

Croatia's Donna Vekic reached the quarter-finals for the first time with a rain-interrupted three-set win over Spain's Paula Badosa. The 28-year-old world No 37 triumphed 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 and goes on to face either Britain's Emma Raducanu or New Zealand qualifier Lulu Sun for a place in the semi-finals.

Vekic and Badosa fought through three rain suspensions out on Court Two before the Croatian's 33 winners proved decisive.

"We've been here since 8:30 this morning and it's now almost 7pm. It's been a very long day," said Vekic, who has now made the last eight at three Grand Slams in her career.

"It was a tough match. When we came back after the second rain delay I felt she was reading my mind."

Vekic reached the quarter-finals of the US Open in 2019 and the Australian Open last year.

Before this year, her best run at the All England Club was a fourth round spot in 2018.