Rublev escapes from Alcaraz to reach Madrid semis

RUSSIAN seventh seed Andrey Rublev has found the key to escape the grasp Carlos Alcaraz has had on the ATP 1000 Madrid Masters, winning in an incredible three-set match overnight. The top 10 talent ended the Spaniard’s hopes of making it three consecutive titles, and also handed the world number three just his second loss at the event, in a 4-6 6-3 6-2 quarter finals win.

After dropping the first set, Rublev played lights out tennis across the next two to put Alcaraz on the ropes, and then close out the match on serve with a dominant display across one hour and 59 minutes. It was just the second time the pair has met, with Alcaraz winning at the ATP Finals last year and winning in straight sets.

Rublev only dropped nine points off his first serve in the last two sets – and 14 in total – as he saved all five break points he faced with great composure under heavy pressure. Alcaraz was not his usual self on clay, and has been a touch off all tournament, but few could doubt Rublev deserved the victory.

“I think the serve saved me a lot of times today,” Rublev said post-match. “I think the key was I was completely calm the whole match. I did not say one word, even if I was losing. That was the key and I was able to serve even better near the end. In the beginning, I was not serving that well but little by little, after set one, I served better and better and finished really well.”

Entering the tournament, Rublev had lost four matches on the trot and looked out of sorts himself, but since then, has won four straight matches and now faces 12th seeded American Taylor Fritz in the semi-final.

“When you start to think of how good everything is, then for six weeks I was not winning at all. So it is better to not think at all,” Rublev said. “That it is just a moment and it happens to everyone. Everyone has been through these moments and the most important thing is to keep working and keep improving.”

Fritz booked his place in the final four with a 6-1 3-6 6-3 triumph over clay court specialist and 21st seed, Francisco Cerundolo. The American put down five aces and won 83 per cent of his first serve points while only being broken once throughout the match. In the other quarter final, Felix Auger-Aliassime received a walkover after top seed Jannik Sinner pulled out with a hip complaint, meaning the top two seeds departed the Madrid Open on the same day.

Tomorrow the fourth quarter final takes place at around 4am Australian EST, with third seed Daniil Medvedev clashing with 30th seed Jiri Lehecka for the right to take on Auger-Aliassime.

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