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Wimbledon Day 6: Rune wins a wild one over Davidovich Fokina, Berrettini beats Zverev

Saturday at Wimbledon had a little bit of everything: five-setters, scares for top seeds, upsets, surprising players earning spots in the second week, and more.

One of several dramatic matches saw Carlos Alcaraz battles past Nicolas Jarry 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-3, 7-5 after three hours and 56 minutes. Jarry served big–as he normally does–with 15 aces compared to just three double-faults, but Alcaraz found his groove on return as the match dragged on and two breaks in the fourth were enough to help him get across the finish line.

“I’m really happy, but exhausted at the same time,” the top-ranked Spaniard said. “I’m really happy to get through that really tough match; really excited to know my opponent (and) play the next round.”

Next up for Alcaraz on Monday is Matteo Berrettini, who suddenly finds himself in resurgent form. The 2021 Wimbledon finalist has been plagued by injuries in 2023 and was 0-1 on grass this summer prior to this fortnight–with a lopsided loss to Lorenzo Sonego in Stuttgart. However, Berettini got revenge on his fellow Italian in round one of Wimbledon and that has sent him off to the races. He has since ousted both Alex de Minaur and Alexander Zverev in straight sets.

Berrettini’s 6-3, 7-6(4), 7-6(5) upset of Zverev came under a closed roof on Court 1 on Saturday night.

“I wasn’t sure even if I was going to play (Wimbledon),” Berrettini noted afterward. “I flew here and I said maybe the atmosphere is going to help me a little bit. I was really not sure about it. Not because I didn’t want to; in order to play a slam, you have to be ready physically, emotionally, mentally. There are many things. The will is not enough.

“But then I have to say I did a great job with my team. We worked really hard. They let me decide. They told me, like, ‘(it) has to be your decision. Few days before, I thought, like, ‘I’m not ready.’ But then I missed too many events in the last years. I couldn’t leave this place without trying. That’s what I said to myself.

“I think this place has something special. It must be this place. I feel kind of energy I don’t feel anywhere else.”

Perhaps no match in week one has had the energy of Holger Rune vs. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Court 3. In a matchup between two of the most entertaining but combustible characters on tour, it predictably turned into a circus–not unlike their recent Madrid meeting that Davidovich Fokina won in a third-set tiebreaker.

In fact, this one also went the distance. In a match complete with Rune staring at his opponent’s box after every point he won during a two-game stretch midway through the fifth set and an infamous underarm serve by Davidovich Fokina at 8-8 in the fifth-set ‘breaker, Rune won 6-3, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(8). He called it “one of the best atmospheres I have ever played in” during his on-court interview.

“It was a crazy match,” Rune assured.

He’s used to it by now, too. The 20-year-old Dane also played deciding fifth-set tiebreakers at each of the first two Grand Slams this season. He squandered a massive lead against Andrey Rublev at the Australian Open but has since won two in a row, having also defeated Francisco Cerundolo at Roland Garros.

“I think I learned my lesson in Australia actually against Rublev,” Rune reflected. “That was a very heartbreaking loss for me. It was tough, but often from these matches you learn the most. I definitely learned how to stay cooler and play better in this situation.

“I did change something from that match, in that match tiebreak to the other two I played. It’s going well. Like, I’m telling myself to be brave and not to put too much pressure on myself, because if you put big pressure on yourself and then you lose, it hurts so much. Just to be free. If I lose, I want to lose the right way.”

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.