Alcaraz into Madrid final on 20th birthday, faces lucky loser Struff
Defending champion Carlos Alcaraz celebrated his 20th birthday on Friday by reaching the Madrid Open final. He described himself as “a bull” in his straight sets win over Borna Coric. Despite the Croatian’s immense talent, Alcaraz was at his best to defeat him 6-4, 6-3.
The world number two broke for a 3-2 lead in a tight first set, then served it out. There was a moment when he recalled some of the inner motivation that helped him triumph at the US Open in New York last year when he captured his maiden Grand Slam crown. “It helped me,” he said.
Alcaraz will take on Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff, initially knocked out in qualifying, but winning a reprieve in Sunday’s final.
“I hope to see [Rafael Nadal] at Roland Garros 100 percent. The world wants to see him at 100 percent,” said Alcaraz. Nadal, Alcaraz’s compatriot and 22-time major winner is now a serious doubt for the French Open in three weeks’ time, having missed the Australian Open, due to a hip injury.
Struff made only his second career final by defeating Russia’s Aslan Karatsev, who had beaten him in qualifying last weekend. Despite having been allocated a place in the main draw after injury pull-outs, Struff avenged that loss in Friday’s semi-final. He came from a set down to see off 121st-ranked Karatsev 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, and set a record as the first luck loser to go all the way to a Masters final.
It’s going to be a tough final match for the competing athletes. Alcaraz is a talented Spanish player with a powerful performance on clay courts, with a perfect record of 20-0. Meanwhile, Struff is aware of his opponent’s ability but is willing to go for his best shot, as he has nothing to lose.
Alcaraz, reaching his fourth Masters 1000 final, showed his true potential, breaking for 3-2 lead in a tight first set, that turned out to be the game-changer. He served it out gracefully to win the first set and took the second set to his name as well.
The only dampener for Alcaraz was the news of Rafael Nadal missing out on the Italian Open next week due to injury. The Spanish compatriot is a 22-time major winner, and it remains to be seen if he can recover ahead of the French Open in three weeks.
Jan-Lennard Struff, on the other hand, made a remarkable comeback in this tournament. Initially knocked out in qualifying, Struff got a reprieve after some injuries shook the main draw, and now he finds himself in the final showdown against Alcaraz.
He showed some great stamina and resilience in his semi-final match against Aslan Karatsev, who defeated him in qualifying last weekend. Despite a set down, Struff bounced back to win the match 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, showing that he has got what it takes to make a name for himself on the big stage.
The final match is going to be an exhilarating experience for the players and fans alike. Alcaraz has never lost on clay courts in Spain, boasting an impressive record of 20-0. He is a talented Spanish player known for his powerful forehand shots and is in sublime form.
While Struff, the German player, is aware of the challenge ahead, he believes he can make an impact in the finals with his fighting spirit. He has nothing to lose, and with a string of impressive performances in the contest, he is determined to give his best shot.
The two players have met before, with both having won a game each. While the German got a straight-set victory at the French Open in 2021, Alcaraz made an impression at Wimbledon last year with a five-setter win.
Struff knows that this final will be different from their previous encounters, given that it’s in Spain, on clay grounds, where Alcaraz has always looked formidable. But he is ready to take on the challenge with all his ferocity and put up a remarkable show, as he believes this will be a defining moment of his career.
The Madrid Open has been an enthralling contest for tennis enthusiasts. Both players showed persistence, resilience, and remarkable agility throughout the tournament, to reach the finals. Alcaraz has been in impressive form, and his unbeatable record on clay courts is something that will be hard to beat for Struff.
However, the German player has shown that he has enough in the tank to come out on top on any given day. It’s going to be a high-voltage encounter in the finals, with Alcaraz and Struff looking to give their best and bring home the coveted trophy.