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Struff and Karatsev will meet for second time at 2023 Madrid Masters

You can watch tennis for a long time without seeing something like what will be witnessed on Friday at the Mutua Madrid Open.

Jan-Lennard Struff and Aslan Karatsev will be going head-to-head in the semifinals of a Masters 1000 tournament after also facing each other in qualifying of the exact same event. Yes, 10 days earlier in the final round of qualifying Karatsev defeated Struff 6-4, 6-2 as the Russian earned his place in the main draw. Struff eventually got a lucky-loser spot in the field of 96 and the rest is history.

“Aslan is playing amazing this week so far and he beat me pretty easily in qualies, I need to say,” Struff commented. “I didn’t play the best tennis in that match, but he made me play not good I feel like. I think we need to analyze it now, focus on the match tomorrow, and I hope I can do better.”

You have to like Struff’s chances of doing a lot better. The 65th-ranked German was playing great this season prior to his qualifying loss at Karatsev’s hands and he has been on fire since. He booked his place in the last four by beating Lorenzo Sonego, Ben Shelton, Dusan Lajovic, Pedro Cachin, and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Of course, Karatsev is also in stellar form. The 121st-ranked Russian parlayed his qualifying success into wins over Laslo Djere, Botic van de Zandschulp, Alex de Minaur, Daniil Medvedev, and Zhizhen Zhang.

This could obviously go either way in such a big match for both players, but it’s never easy to beat the same opponent twice at the same tournament and conditions in Madrid favor big servers–in this case Struff. The 33-year-old’s serve is working well right now, so look for him to turn the tide from the qualifying match.

Pick: Struff in 3

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.