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Carlos Alcaraz Claims Second Straight Madrid Open Crown

Carlos Alcaraz joins Rafael Nadal as the second man to successfully defend Madrid. Photo credit: Mutua Madrid Open Facebook

Facing fear is a prerequisite for premier championships.

Spooked by Jan-Lennard Struff’s damaging returns in the second set, Carlos Alcaraz didn’t shrink from the trauma.

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A fearless Alcaraz held the line and hammered through Struff’s stress, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to capture his second straight Mutua Madrid Open crown.

The US Open champion joined compatriot Rafael Nadal (2013-2014) as just the second man in history to collect consecutive Mutua Madrid Open championships.

“It was tough,” Alcaraz told Tennis Channel’s Prakash Amritraj afterward. “The first set it was close as well. The second set I had my chances to break his serve when he was up, but I couldn’t do that.

“But I think it was a complete match from both and I’m really, really happy to get through a really tough battle.”

Two days after celebrating his 20th birthday, the top seed sustained the Age of Alcaraz scoring his 21st consecutive clay-court victory on home soil. Alcaraz raised his 2023 record to 29-2 claiming his fourth title of the season while improving to 4-0 in Masters 1000 finals.

The victory vaults Alcaraz almost right back to the top of the sport. The former world No. 1 now trails top-ranked Novak Djokovic by just five ranking points in the ATP Live rankings.

The ATP’s youngest year-end No. 1 in history edged Djokovic in a three-hour thriller in Madrid last May and now the pair could be posed for a showdown in Rome or Paris.

A year after Alcaraz annihilated another German in the Madrid final, Alexander Zverev, he was truly tested for two sets by Struff, who serve-and-volleyed and attacked his second-serve returns unsettling the defending champion.

Spare a thought for Struff, who made history as the first lucky loser to reach a Masters 1000 final in history.

The 33-year-old German was knocked out of qualifying by Aslan Karatsev, slipped into the main draw, shocked former Roland Garros finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals, knocked Karatsev out of the semifinals then pushed home favorite Alcaraz for two hours, 25 minutes.

“It’s been an incredible journey for me,” Struff said. “Losing qualies here coming in as a lucky loser to the event it was just amazing to get a second chance. Thank you everyone for the support.”

Alcaraz’s best tennis eluded him for parts of this final largely because Struff attacked relentlessly and rushed the Spaniard at times. Struff won 28 of 44 trips to net and hit 12 more winners—30 to 18—but Alcaraz kept calm and carved out some clever drop shots at crunch time to collect his 10th career championship.

Despite not playing his most dynamic tennis, Alcaraz still turned it up when required winning five of the final seven games to defend his title.