Carlos Alcaraz, the world’s second-ranked best player, defeated German Jan-Lennard Struff in three sets to defend his Madrid Open crown.
The 20-year-old Spaniard triumphed 6-4 3-6 6-3 for his fourth ATP Tour championship of the year and tenth overall. After fellow countryman Rafael Nadal achieved the same in 2014, Alcaraz is the second person to defend his championship in Madrid.
By competing in Rome the following week, he will overtake Novak Djokovic as the number one player in the world. After winning the Barcelona Open in April, Alcaraz now has victories in back-to-back events. This accomplishment shows why he is one of the favourites for the French Open, which starts on May 28.
During the fourth game at Caja Magica, his opponent rallied after he had broken lucky loser Struff’s serve in the opening game. The US Open winner Alcaraz, though, ripped off three consecutive games after Struff kept his serve, saving three break opportunities before converting on his first set point.
The world number 65 Struff quickly took a 3-0 lead to start the second set before holding off five break points to advance 4-1. Despite missing a chance to take a breather, the 33-year-old continued to serve out the set to force a decider, which is when Alcaraz found another gear.
While he didn’t convert two more break opportunities, he broke to take a 3-1 lead, never looked back, and served out the match to love. Alcaraz, who shared a birthday with Aryna Sabalenka, the women’s champion, on Friday, has only lost two games so far this year.