Football fan: Carlos Alcaraz faces Tommy Paul for a Wimbledon semi-final place
Football fan: Carlos Alcaraz faces Tommy Paul for a Wimbledon semi-final place AFP

Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz will attempt to set up a blockbuster Wimbledon semi-final on Tuesday, confirming their status as the pathfinders of tennis's next generation.

However, Lulu Sun, the unheralded qualifier from a remote town in New Zealand, saw her dream of a semi-final spot shattered by experienced campaigner Donna Vekic.

Sun went down 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 as Vekic reached the last four of a Grand Slam for the first time at the 43rd attempt and after 11 years on tour.

"I felt like I was dying out there in the first two sets but I just kept going, hoping to have a chance and it came in the end," said 28-year-old Vekic.

World number one Sinner takes on fifth-ranked Daniil Medvedev in Centre Court's opening quarter-final.

The two have clashed 11 times and their head-to-head reflects the recent rapid rise of the beanpole Italian.

Medvedev won all of the pair's first six meetings while Sinner has swept the past five.

All have come on hard courts, including the Italian's fightback from two sets down to defeat Medvedev in January's Australian Open final, his first Grand Slam title.

Both men were losing semi-finalists at the All England Club in 2023.

"When Jannik came on tour, he hit strong from every position of the court, but he was missing a lot and losing matches," said Russia's Medvedev.

"Then he stopped missing less and now it's very tough to beat him. That's why he's number one in the world."

Defending champion Alcaraz, who is attempting to reach a sixth Grand Slam semi-final, faces Tommy Paul, the American 12th seed.

The 21-year-old Alcaraz will be desperate to have his Wimbledon business done and dusted in time to settle in front of a television to see Spain take on France in the Euro 2024 semi-finals in Germany.

Alcaraz is good friends with Spain captain Alvaro Morata.

"It's time to support them, as I know they are supporting me when I'm playing matches or I'm playing tournaments," said Alcaraz.

Alcaraz is seeking to become just the sixth man to capture the French Open and Wimbledon titles back to back.

The 27-year-old Paul is in his first Wimbledon quarter-final but arrived at the tournament having won the Queen's title on grass.

Vekic, the world number 37, was playing in her first Wimbledon quarter-final having made the last eight at the 2019 US Open and 2023 Australian Open.

"It was a really tough match, she played unbelievable, I feel like she really pushed me to my limits," said the emotional Croatian.

Sun, ranked 123rd in the world, drew first blood, breaking in the 11th game and serving out for the first set.

Vekic battled her way back into the contest, but her serve fell apart as she served for the second set at 5-3, producing five double faults.

The Croatian immediately regrouped and broke Sun in the next game to take the set 6-4.

From then on it was one-way traffic as she made it 16 points in a row, racing into a 5-0 lead and wrapping up the match in a little over two hours.

Vekic will face either Italian seventh seed Jasmine Paolini or 17th-ranked Emma Navarro for a place in Saturday's final.

"I think physically I did have a little bit of issue at the end," said Sun, who came through qualifying and was playing her eighth match in just over two weeks.

"But she played well. Maybe if I could have moved faster, maybe if I didn't have the cramps, who knows what would have happened."

Until this year, Paolini had never made it past the second round of a Grand Slam in 16 appearances.

That changed with a fourth-round run at the Australian Open followed by a runner-up finish to Iga Swiatek at Roland Garros.

Navarro is also breaking new ground as she prepares for her first Grand Slam quarter-final.

The 23-year-old New York-born player stunned world number two and US Open champion Coco Gauff in the fourth round.

The tournament's remaining quarter-finals take place on Wednesday with seven-time champion Novak Djokovic facing Alex de Minaur while Taylor Fritz clashes with Lorenzo Musetti.

In the women's draw, 2022 champion Elena Rybakina tackles Elina Svitolina, with Jelena Ostapenko and Barbora Krejcikova meeting in a clash of former French Open champions.

First-timer: Tommy Paul is in his maiden Wimbledon quarter-final
First-timer: Tommy Paul is in his maiden Wimbledon quarter-final AFP
Rollercoaster rivalry: Daniil Medvedev and Jannik Sinner
Rollercoaster rivalry: Daniil Medvedev and Jannik Sinner AFP
Breakthrough: Donna Vekic on her way to victory over Lulu Sun
Breakthrough: Donna Vekic on her way to victory over Lulu Sun AFP