Alcaraz survives Struff scare in Madrid rematch

IN a rematch of last year’s Madrid Open ATP 1000 final, reigning champion Carlos Alcaraz again had German Jan-Lennard Struff‘s number, getting up in an almost three-hour thriller out on Manolo Santana Stadium. The second seed won 6-3 6-7 7-6 in two hours and 52 minutes to advance through to the Masters’ quarter finals.

The Spanish rising star and clay court champion was tipped to make an easier go of it than his three-set thriller against Struff in the 2023 decider, but instead it went the other way with Struff forcing it to a third set tiebreaker before Alcaraz won it 7-4.

The match was not without a controversial line call in the second set with Struff serving an ace down the middle that was called out. Struff challenged it and surprisingly Alcaraz walked towards his chair and told the umpire it was in, which the challenge ultimately confirmed handing the German the second set.

Despite being 14 years his senior, Struff showed her could still match it with the best in the world, managing to save four match points when down a break at 5-3 in the third set, with Alcaraz only getting his fifth chance in the tiebreak which he took.

“Honestly this match reminds me of last year’s match,” Alcaraz said post-match. “It was pretty difficult from the first point until the last one. It was a great fight and it was difficult. It was difficult for me to deal with my emotions, to handle certain moments, difficult moments in the match.

“Serving for the match, it was really difficult for me after that 40/0 up, but really happy that at the end it didn’t affect me with my game, with my mentality. I kept fighting. That’s all that matters and I’m really happy to get the win at the end.”

Alcaraz boasts a ridiculous 15-1 tournament record, having won the past two titles in Madrid, and will take on Russian Andrey Rublev in the quarter finals. The second seed is unbeaten on Spanish clay since the start of 2022, and if he wins Madrid will collect his sixth ATP Masters 1000 trophy, and 14th overall crown.

In other results, Rublev reached the last eight after defeating giant-killer Tallon Griekspoor, with fellow Russian Daniil Medvedev also making it through with a hard-fought 7-6 6-4 win over Alexander Bublik. Argentinian Francisco Cerundolo and Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime provided the upsets of the day, knocking off top 10 talents Alexander Zverev and Casper Ruud.

Czech rising talent Jiri Lehecka ended the run of Rafael Nadal in just over two hours, while Jannik Sinner and Taylor Fritz were the other victors. The quarter finals begin overnight tonight with Rublev and Alcaraz facing off before Fritz and Cerundolo go at it. Tomorrow sees Sinner and Auger-Aliassime do battle, while Medevedev and Lehecka completes the set.

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