Carlos Alcaraz and the Caja Mágica already form an unbreakable pairing. The Murcian managed to revalidate his title at the Masters 1,000 in Madrid after a hard-fought victory against Jan-Lennard Struff (6-4, 3-6 and 6-3) in 2 hours and 25 minutes of duel to become, along with Rafa Nadal , the only tennis player to revalidate the Mutua Madrid Open champion crown. The German, who was planted in the final with the purpose of signing a historic feat after accessing the main draw as a ‘lucky loser’, was a hard bone for a Carlitos who remains unstoppable on Spanish clay, where he has already accumulated 21 consecutive victories and where he has won his 10th ATP title.
For the second consecutive year, a giant German stood between Alcaraz and the title. On this occasion it would be Struff, and not Zverev, who would suffer the overwhelming start of the Murcian on what is already his favorite track, the Manolo Santana. The Murcian snatched the Teuton’s serve in the first game of the match, although the German’s two double faults helped.
Surprisingly, Struff recovered quickly and broke the Spaniard’s serve to target. The atmosphere already foreshadowed that it would not be a walk for Carlitos. Again another double fault at 3-3 condemned Struff, who gave up his serve again. In the last game of the quarter, Alcaraz saved three breaking balls, shot solidly and won the first set 6-4.
Far from lowering the level after losing the first round, Struff showed that he did not attend the final as a guest at Alcaraz’s party. He broke the Murcian’s serve again to take the lead in the second set. The German regained confidence and signed an outstanding second set. Better in his service and hurting Alcaraz with his brilliant serve-volley with which he left big points.
The German saved five balls of ‘break’ with the 3-1, solved the trouble and knew how to maintain the advantage to take the second set 6-3. Struff was playing at the best level of his career and took advantage of Alcaraz’s doubts, to whom the ghosts of the first leg of the match against Ruusuvuori appeared, especially due to the large number of unforced errors that he made.
Alcaraz is a lot of Alcaraz
The third and final sleeve began with equality until Alcaraz decided to deal a final blow for the future of the match. He snatched the service from a Struff whose forces were beginning to falter after more than two weeks of the tournament. Alcaraz, carried away by Manolo Santana, confirmed the ‘break’ to get the final back on track. Already calmer, the Murcian showed more reliability in his shots and incorporated a higher percentage of successful droplets into his game.
With 5-3 and service to close the final, Alcaraz took out all his weapons for a walk. A drop, a direct kick, a volley and a prodigious forehand to finish off his two-time championship at the Masters 1,000 in Madrid. He knew how to suffer from El Palmar, who fell to the ground after the hard-fought victory against a Struff who was a very worthy rival for the number two in the world. Not even the best game in the German’s career could with Alcaraz, who despite not performing at an outstanding level, managed to impose his law in a Magic Box that he already feels is his home.
To Roland Garros as number one
Achieving the two-time championship in Madrid brings positive consequences in the ranking for Alcaraz, who only by playing the second round of the Masters 1,000 in Rome, which begins in five days, will ensure that he reaches Roland Garros as world number one to the detriment of Novak Djokovic, who defends title in the Italian capital.
Being the first seed in the second Grand Slam of the season guarantees him not to face the Serb until a hypothetical final. However, the options of facing Nadal in the fourth or eighth round are growing due to the drop in the ranking suffered by the Spaniard, who could play Roland Garros without prior preparation in any clay-court tournament.
In addition, Carlitos also leads the 2023 ‘race’, surpassing Daniil Medvedev by 110 points and equaling the Russian with four titles this season (ATP 250 in Buenos Aires, Masters 1,000 in Indian Wells, ATP 500 in Barcelona and Masters 1,000 in Madrid ), in another sign that the Murcian is, at just 20 years old, a candidate for everything.
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