On Sunday, Carlos Alcaraz successfully defended his Madrid Open title with a hard-fought victory over Jan-Lennard Struff, earning his 10th career title. Alcaraz, who is currently ranked second in the world, has the opportunity to reclaim the world’s top ranking from Novak Djokovic with a single match at the Rome Masters next week, before the French Open.
Adding to his victories in Barcelona, Buenos Aires, and Indian Wells this year, Alcaraz continued his build-up to Roland Garros by winning the Madrid trophy. However, he struggled to find his best form against his German opponent, the world number 65 and a lucky loser in the tournament.
Despite the challenging match, the 20-year-old managed to become the youngest player since Rafael Nadal in 2006 to defend an ATP Masters 1000 title. In his post-match interview, Alcaraz reflected on his performance, stating that he enjoyed parts of the match but also struggled at times due to nerves.
He said, “Today I enjoyed it in parts, in other parts I suffered more than I enjoyed it, but it’s what you have to live with. Nerves come into play, and it’s difficult, but I think I enjoyed it more than I suffered today.”
Despite being 13 years older than Alcaraz, Struff exhibited nerves in the opening game and lost a break after double faulting and then hitting a volley too long. Although it was only his second tour-level final, Struff was aiming to become the first lucky loser ever to win a title at this level. He could also have become the oldest first-time Masters 1000 winner.
Alcaraz managed to hold on to his 2-0 lead under pressure, surviving a breakpoint as Struff began to find his range. The German broke back to love for 2-2, indicating that he would not be an easy opponent, despite the home crowd’s support for Alcaraz and the ranking difference between the two players, and then won a third consecutive game.
Nevertheless, Alcaraz broke again for a 4-3 lead when Struff made another double fault, and he managed to save a triple break point to take the first set. He pulled off an excellent drop shot and lob combination to win the set. Alcaraz’s defensive speed aided him in dealing with Struff’s powerful game, which caused a lot of problems. In the first set, Struff hit 14 winners to the Spaniard’s seven, with the points evenly distributed at 35 each.