Alcaraz is in the final of Madrid on his 20th birthday, meets Lucky Loser Struff

'Wie ein Stier': <a class="Verknüpfung " href="" data-ylk="slk:Carlos Alcaraz;elm:context_link;itc:0">Carlos Alcaráz</a> celebrates victory over Borna Coric and reaches the <a class="Verknüpfung " href="" data-ylk="slk:Madrid;elm:context_link;itc:0">Madrid</a> Finale” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/ 54be5626 ” data-src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTY0MA–/ 5d5eba02bebc0c279b4778aa54be5626″/></div>
<p>Defending champion Carlos Alcaraz celebrated his 20th birthday on Friday by reaching the final of the Madrid Open and comparing himself to a “bull” in his straight-set win over Borna Coric.</p>
<p>The world number two was at his best to defeat the Croatian 6-4, 6-3.</p>
<p>He meets world No. 65 German Jan-Lennard Struff in Sunday’s final, who was originally eliminated in qualifying before winning a reprieve.</p>
<p>Alcaraz said he drew on some of the inner motivations that helped him triumph at the US Open in New York last year when he won his first Grand Slam crown.</p>
<p>“There was a moment where I repeated what I repeated at the US Open, that I’m a Bull and that I could do it, and it helped me,” he explained.</p>
<p>Alcaraz, reaching his fourth Masters 1000 final, went 3-2 in a tight first set and served out.</p>
<p>He broke 2-1 in the second set and after world No. 20 Coric immediately hit back, he did so again for a 3-2 lead that he consolidated.</p>
<p>Alcaraz sealed the match with another break when Coric went long and ensured he reached the final, dropping just one set en route, to Emil Ruusuvuori.</p>
<p>The top seed was able to celebrate with a birthday cake, which the tournament organizers presented to him after his victory.</p>
<p>The only dampener for Alcaraz was the news that his Spanish compatriot and 22-time Major winner Rafael Nadal would miss next week’s Italian Open through injury.</p>
<p>Nadal has not played since the Australian Open in January due to a hip injury and is now seriously in doubt for the French Open in three weeks, where the 36-year-old has won 14 champions.</p>
<p>– “The world wants Nadal” –</p>
<p>“I hope to see him 100 percent at Roland Garros.  The world wants to see him 100 percent,” said Alcaraz.</p>
<p>Struff, 33, reached only his second career final by beating Russia’s Aslan Karatsev, who beat him in last weekend’s qualifiers.</p>
<p>After Struff had been given a place in the main draw after injury breaks, Struff took revenge for this defeat in the semifinals on Friday.</p>
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He came down from one set to defeat 121st-ranked Karatsev 4-6 6-3 6-4 to become the first “lucky loser” to make it to the Masters final.

Struff, whose only other final appearance in Munich in 2021 led to a second place, took the win with a fifth match point.

He fired 37 winners, including 15 aces, in his 2 hour 19 minute win.

“It’s amazing,” said Struff. “I’ve played a final in Munich before, but there was no audience there because of Covid.”

Struff and Alcaraz have met twice before – the German winning in straight sets at the French Open in 2021 before the flamboyant Spaniard won a five-setter at Wimbledon last year.

– “I have to do it” –

“We played a fantastic match at Wimbledon and I was close to beating him, but he made incredible shots,” said Struff.

“It’s going to be different. It’s in Spain, in Madrid. I think he’s 20-0 on Spanish clay, so it’s going to be very tough. I have to try or I don’t have a chance.” “

Struff, who upset fifth-placed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals, became the third lucky loser to reach the semifinals at a Masters 1000 event, joining Thomas Johansson in Toronto in 2004 and Lucas Pouille in Rome in 2016.

On Saturday, the Madrid women’s final will take place between world number one Iga Swiatek and number two, Aryna Sabalenka.



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