Carlos Alcaraz vs Tommy Paul: Three ways US star can stun world No 3 and reigning Wimbledon champion

Carlos Alcaraz and Tommy Paul
Carlos Alcaraz and Tommy Paul face off in an intriguing Wimbledon quarter-final.

Tommy Paul is rising the crest of a grass-court wave right now.

After the American ace claimed the biggest title of his career at the Queen’s Club two weeks ago, the 12th seed is into a first Wimbledon quarter-final – and just the second major quarter-final of his career.

It has not always been easy for Paul, but he was in cruise control against Roberto Bautista Agut in round four and now faces another Spaniard: reigning champion Carlos Alcaraz.

World No 3 Alcaraz is more experienced at this level and is the favourite, but Paul has had some success against the three-time major champion before.

The American holds a level 2-2 head-to-head against Alcaraz, causing the Spaniard more trouble than most.

Paul is more than capable of beating Alcaraz again – here is how he can do it.

1. Aggressive on return

Alcaraz cruised through his opening two matches, but his round three and four matches – against 29th seed Frances Tiafoe, and 16th seed Ugo Humbert – were far from straightforward.

Tiafoe pushed the reigning champion to five sets and was six points from victory at one stage, while Humbert nearly forced a decider after a dominant third set.

What was most notable in both matches is that Alcaraz looked vulnerable on serve, broken four times in a row by Humbert at one stage, and also facing issues against Tiafoe.

With neither of those opponents renowned for being the best returners on tour, this suggests Alcaraz may be vulnerable.

Paul is not a massive returner but it is a reliable part of his game, and he must look to be ultra-aggressive whenever possible.

Whether it is stepping inside the baseline for any second serve or holding a high line on every first serve, the world No 13 can make the Spaniard uncomfortable in this area.

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2. Baseline consistency

This may seem like an obvious point to through in, but is a particularly key area for both men in this match-up.

Paul is rock solid on the baseline and it is undoubtedly his all-round consistency and reliability off both wings, and with his athleticism, that has caused Alcaraz so many problems in this match-up previously.

The world No 3 is so used to being able to dictate play and bully opponents around the court, usually to success – but the American does not make this an easy thing to do against him.

Paul will have to defend regularly in this encounter but that is no issue for him, and he has proven regularly in recent months he is comfortable switching from defence to attack.

A clean, level game gives him a huge shot against an opponent with such wild ups and downs.

3. Block out the noise

Alcaraz has several big strengths, and one of them is undoubtedly getting the crowd on his side.

He has become a hugely popular figure with fans thanks to his exciting brand of tennis, and produces big shots in big moments to raise the roof off any court he is playing on.

Often, this unnerves his opponents, causing them to crumble slightly or lose focus – something Paul cannot afford to do.

The American will probably need to accept that he will not be the crowd favourite here, and ignore the 12,000 on Court 1 to focus solely on himself.

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