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Wimbledon 2022 Gets Underway – Alcaraz wins in five sets, Hurkacz goes down in five

By Ricky Dimon

On paper, at least one semifinal spot in the Wimbledon men’s singles draw is completely up for grabs.

It won’t be Hubert Hurkacz who takes it.

Hurkacz appeared to be sitting pretty in Casper Ruud’s quarter of the bracket, but the 2021 Wimbledon semifinalist and recent Halle champion crashed out in the first round following an absolutely wild affair with Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Monday afternoon. When it was all said and done, Davidovich Fokina pulled off a 7-6(4), 6-4, 5-7, 2-6, 7-6(10-8) upset. How they got there, though, is even more uproarious than the eye-popping scoreline.

Davidovich Fokina not only led two sets to love, but he also went up by a break in the third set and even served for a straight-set win at 5-3 and led 40-0 in that game. Despite making three first serves on those match points, the 37th-ranked Spaniard could not get across the finish line. After Hurkacz stole set three to stay alive, it was his turn to relinquish an upper hand in the fifth. The world No. 10 twice led by a break during the decider–including while serving for it at 5-4. However, Davidovich Fokina never went away. The 23-year-old broke back, forced a super-tiebreaker, and mounted one last comeback from 7-4 down in the ‘breaker to secure an incredible win after three hours and 28 minutes.

“Really I don’t know how I won this match,” Davidovich Fokina admitted. “He had [5-4 in the fifth set] and serving with the new balls. I was (thinking), ‘Okay, let’s put the return in and let’s see what happens.’But I’m so happy for the win today because I was struggling a little bit. To beat Hurkacz on grass–he [made] the semifinals last year–it’s so much confidence to myself. I’m so happy.”

Hurkacz wasn’t the only top player who had to endure a super-‘breaker in the fifth. Carlos Alcaraz also went the distance with Jan-Lennard Struff, but Alcaraz proved to be more fortunate–or maybe just better. Playing in only his fourth match on grass (first this season), the 19-year-old Spaniard overcame Jan-Lennard Struff 4-6, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-4 after four hours and 11 minutes.

“First of all, I enjoyed (it) a lot,” Alcaraz assured. (It was a) great battle; four hours. For me, (to) play on grass is so beautiful. I would say my level on grass has to improve a little bit., but I’m happy with my level today. Of course I’m not (an) experienced player on grass. I will improve.

“I don’t feel the pressure, ’cause I rank myself not one of the favorites to win this tournament. Obviously if I play well, I have (the) level to win the tournament. But there are a lot of more experienced players on grass, more players play better on grass than me. I don’t feel the pressure. (I’m) just [getting experience] on grass and (will) enjoy every match.”

Alcaraz’s countryman Pablo Carreno Busta was the only other seed along with Hurkacz to bow out of the draw’s top half on Monday. Carreno Busta retired with an injury after splitting sets against Dusan Lajovic.

There was one huge exit on the bottom half. Former Wimbledon finalist and two-time Queen’s Club champion Marin Cilic tested positive for Covid-19 and had to withdraw.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.