Cristian Garin broke new ground in the most dramatic way possible on Monday at Wimbledon, where the Chilean engineered a stirring comeback victory against Alex de Minaur to reach his maiden Grand Slam quarter-final.
The World No. 43 raised his level to spectacular effect halfway through the pair’s fourth-round clash, recovering a two-sets-to-love deficit to complete a 2-6, 5-7, 7-6(3), 6- 4, 7-6(10-6) win.
After a slow start, the Chilean’s aggressive ballstriking began to penetrate the De Minaur defenses from the third set onwards. Yet Garin also had to hold his nerve to save two match points when serving at 4-5, 15/40 in the fifth set. De Minaur even put in a spectacular dive at the net on one of those points to try and clinch the win, but Garin held firm and the Chilean then prevailed in a tense deciding-set tie-break to cap a remarkable four-hour, 34 -minute victory.
“Honestly, I don’t have any words right now,” Garin said in his on-court interview. “I just gave everything I have. It was a very tough fight. It was a battle. I think Alex is an incredible player, for me one of the best on grass.
“I am exhausted. I just gave my best, and I think in the fifth set it was for him or for me. We both fought a lot… Nobody knows what [can] happen in the tie-break. I tried to be aggressive, went to the net, and tried to be aggressive with my serve as well. I think that was the key.”
The win makes Garin just the eighth Chilean male player to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final, and the fourth to do so at Wimbledon after Luis Ayala, Ricardo Acuna and Fernando Gonzalez. The 26-year-old’s next opponent will be another Australian, Nick Kyrgios, after he emerged a 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-2 winner against #NextGenATP American Brandon Nakashima.
“It’s so special,” added Garin. “I’ve been working hard all my life to be in this position. It is a dream for me, Wimbledon. I always said that it is my favorite tournament, I love to be here in London. It’s amazing. It is a dream for me to be in the quarter-finals. I work hard every day to be on those occasions. I will go for it, try to rest and give my best in the next round.”
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De Minaur broke Garin’s serve in the opening game of the match, and that set the tone for much of the early stages in the pair’s fourth ATP Head2Head meeting. The Australian was typically resilient, showing his trademark lightning-fast movement to frustrate his opponent and sealing the first set with a classy forehand lob.
After De Minaur also claimed a topsy-turvy second set that featured five breaks of serve, the two-set deficit appeared to trigger something in Garin’s game. The 26-year-old began to find the lines with his clubbed groundstrokes, and De Minaur’s early energy began to fade as Garin claimed the third and fourth sets to force a decider.
After an early exchange of breaks, a tense fifth set went the way of the Chilean, who had to fend off two De Minaur match points when serving at 4-5. Garin remained the most consistent in the deciding-set tie-break to complete a memorable victory that improves his record in five-set tour-level matches to 8-3.
Garin has won all five of his ATP Tour titles on clay. The Chilean admitted that his run to the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2021, when he fell to eventual champion Novak Djokovic, had been crucial in giving him belief when it comes to adapting his game for the grass.
“Now [my favourite surface] is grass!” joked the Chilean. “Our sport is like that. I work hard every day to get better. Last year I [won] four rounds here, and I think that was a big experience for me. Today, I felt a different match to last year. I know how to play on these courts, and it is very important to me to keep learning, keep improving, and that is why I work hard every day.”