Carlos Alcaraz Overcomes Struff’s Aggression to Clinch Second Consecutive Madrid Open Title

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Carlos Alcaraz - Victory Madrid Open 2023
© Photo: Ella Ling//SIPA

Despite not having an exceptional tournament, 20-year-old Carlos Alcaraz triumphed in the Madrid Open final on Sunday, securing his second consecutive Madrid title and a Barcelona-Madrid double.

A Rocky Path to Victory

Alcaraz faced a tough opponent in the surprising German lucky loser Jan-Lennard Struff, who pushed the Spaniard to the edge with his ultra-aggressive playing style. However, as with his previous matches against Emil Ruusuvuori and Karen Khachanov, Alcaraz managed to secure victory (6-4, 3-6, 6-3) despite not playing at his best.

Struff’s strategy to take time away from the world number 2, prevent him from settling into rallies, and shorten points proved effective. The German’s intimidating presence at the net and significant risks on returns caused Alcaraz’s forehand to falter, resulting in 20 unforced errors on that side and 31 in total.

Adjustments and Coach’s Guidance

Taking advice from his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero, Alcaraz began to serve more to the body and capitalized on Struff’s poorly executed serves. The German struggled with his first serve, forcing him to overdo it on his second serve, which led to four double faults in two critical games.

Setbacks and Second Set Struggles

Despite winning the first set, Alcaraz faced increasing difficulties in the second set. Struff resumed his destructive tactics, breaking the Spaniard’s serve with well-placed drop volleys and powerful returns. Alcaraz had five break point opportunities, but his own errors and the German’s courage helped Struff save the points and win the second set.

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His opponent’s game is really bothering him. He feels Struff’s presence at the net […] He must be wondering what’s happening to him, as he likes to be in control, produce play, create different things, now it’s him who is constantly subjected to Struff’s aggressive intentions.

Justine Henin on Eurosport

A Decisive Turning Point

In the final set, the turning point came when Alcaraz, more assertive, snatched Struff’s serve for the first time in over an hour, thanks to a winning drop shot and a passing shot that made the towering German waver. Liberated by the break, Alcaraz closed out the match at 5-3 with a love game, earning the crown without playing at his best level—a testament to his greatness.

This victory showcases Carlos Alcaraz’s immense potential, even when not performing at his peak. With four Madrid Open titles under his belt at just 20 years old, the tennis world eagerly awaits what this young prodigy will accomplish in the next fifteen years.

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