APRIL 21 - MAY 4, 2025

Alcaraz moves the goalposts

Carlitos made no bones about his goals here at the start of the week. The mission in Madrid was part of a grander plan, to play three or four matches to help him recover his fitness and pick up some competitive court time. The fear of a relapse was looming large at the back of Carlos Alcaraz’s mind. After his epic battle today, the Murcia native has moved on. He feels good. He has reached his first milestone.

Now, though, Carlitos wants more. He is hungry for titles and did nothing to hide his new priorities from the press. “At the start of the tournament I would have taken playing 3 or 4 matches, seeing how I felt, taking it bit by bit and improving. Now I’ve played 3 matches and I feel really good, very positive, and we’re thinking about progressing. Now, after the match I played with Struff at a high level, we can’t be thinking about anything other than the title”. Carlitos Alcaraz may win or lose, anything can happen in the world of tennis, but if things go south, it will certainly not be for a lack of ambition or desire. The world number three is aware that there is a long road ahead of him, but his sights are now set on his third consecutive crown.

The next obstacle on his route to the final goes by the name of Andrei Rublev, who arrived in Madrid stuck in something of a rut. However, he looks to have found a way out of it in Madrid. They are very familiar with one another’s games. “Rublev is a great player, he plays great tennis, he’s very aggressive. We’ll have to fight for it, we’ll try and play our best tennis. I’ve played against him several times, I’ve watched him play a lot, I’ve practised with him a lot. I’m familiar with his level, how to play him, but it’ll be a very tough match and I’ll have to make the most of the opportunities that come my way, because I’m sure he won’t give me many”.

If Carlos has any excuses, tiredness will not be one of them. “Obviously, he played two sets, he finished early, and I played three hours and finished later. The recovery time is not the same. Once we’re on court that accumulated tiredness, all those hours we’ve had on court, are forgotten and we’ll go out as if it were the first match. As if they were our first minutes on court and we’ll give our all”.

Despite his change of mindset, the man from Murcia remains analytical and he still sees room for improvement. His first serve will be somewhere near the top of his to-do list. “Obviously there’s a lot of room for improvement on my serve. It’s something I have to improve on. But I’m very happy with the progress I’ve made with it. I think I served well, but Struff was incredible on the return”.

Tomorrow, not before 16:00 Madrid time, Carlos Alcaraz and Andrei Rublev will lock horns for a place among the top four players at the 2024 Mutua Madrid Open.