Carlos Alcaraz remains on course to defend his throne at the Mutua Madrid Open. The man from Murcia progressed to the semi-finals in the Caja Mágica on Wednesday after beating Karen Khachanov 6-4, 7-5, leaving him just two steps away from a successful title defence in the Spanish capital.
The number one seed managed to contain a ferocious reaction from his opponent, taking the last five games of the match to claim victory. Alcaraz converted a 2-5 deficit in the second set into an opportunity to test his focus. Much to the delight of the Manolo Santana Stadium, it passed with flying colours.
“It was tough”, admitted Alcaraz on court. “The first set was tight. I was in trouble in the second and he had a chance to get another break. Karen had an opportunity to win that set, but I knew I would have my chances. I’m very happy to have progressed”.
Alcaraz was required to dig into his full repertoire of shots to take control of the match. His speed around the court was astonishing, and he earned himself countless opportunities to return seemingly impossible shots and then launch his own attack. The man from Murcia, who frequently employed his famous drop shot, eventually undid Khachanov’s game with a range of devastating winners.
“I often have to be patient”, explained the Spaniard, who is blessed with an arsenal that is as powerful as it is varied. “I tell myself I don’t need to rush. A lot of things go through your mind. Sometimes it’s difficult to choose the right option”.
The world No. 2 now awaits the winner of the clash between the Croatian Borna Coric and German player Daniel Altmaier in the Mutua Madrid Open semi-final. The Spaniard will play in the penultimate round of the Madrid ATP Masters 1000 on Friday.
The match allowed Alcaraz to extend his impeccable record (3-0) over Khachanov in their ATP Head2Head, a rivalry that has so far played out purely on clay courts. Before their clash in Madrid, Carlos had prevailed in their encounters in Hamburg and Roland Garros.
Khachanov leaves Madrid with a good chance of returning to the Top 10 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. His run to the quarter-finals provisionally puts him at No. 11, just 210 points from a place among the best 10 players in the world.