Carlos Alcaraz has extended his legacy at the Mutua Madrid Open. The Murcia native claimed his second consecutive title in the Caja Mágica, defeating German player Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to establish himself as the new king of the Spanish capital.
Under the watchful eye of Juan Carlos Ferrero, the world No. 2 claimed the fourth ATP Masters 1000 crown of his career, consolidating his dominance on clay. The Spaniard has once again stamped his authority on the tour’s slowest surface by claiming some of its biggest titles.
Sunday saw Alcaraz complete an astonishing campaign in the Manolo Santana Stadium. Amid a party atmosphere, Alcaraz became the second man ever to defend his crown at the Mutua Madrid Open. Only Rafael Nadal, the champion in 2013 and 2014, had won two consecutive ATP titles in the Spanish capital.
His two previous clashes with Struff forewarned that today’s match would not be straight forward. The German had defeated Alcaraz on the clay of Roland Garros in 2021 and took him to five sets at last year’s Wimbledon. These two encounters will have been fresh in the memories of both players.
In a final that could prove historic, Alcaraz appeared to be feeling the adrenaline from the start. Against a granite server, with 92% of service games held on his way to the final, Carlos’ reflexes were sharp straight out of the blocks. The man from Murcia broke his opponent’s serve in game one, but it was not a sign of things to come.
In a match that stood out for both players’ aggression on the return, Struff did not shy from the challenge. After three stretches in which players alternately claimed three straight games, Alcaraz confirmed that his opponent was unfazed by his first final at this level.
There was nothing between them and Alcaraz had to dig deep into his arsenal throughout. Struff’s powerful returns were a constant threat, and the Spaniard had to fight back from 0-40 before he was able to serve out the first set.
Struff had forged his path to the final with a wide range of shots, both powerful on the baseline and creative mid-court. The imposing German frequently approached the net and Alcaraz struggled to find a way around him. Before long, Struff had taken a 3-0 lead in set two, plunging the match into uncertainty.
The German doubled down by clinching an unforgettable 15-minute game through some deft touches at the net, saving five break points to take a 4-1 lead. If Madrid was in any doubt about his resilience, Jan-Lennard had just erased it. A delicate volley a few inches from the net enabled Struff to seal the set.
The world No. 65 was in familiar territory in the Manolo Santana Stadium. Five of his six matches in the Caja Mágica’s main draw had gone the distance. He had not lost a serve in any of those deciding sets. With this in mind, he set his sights on the biggest achievement of his life.
The pressure climaxed in game three. Alcaraz saved a break point before inflicting a killer blow on Struff. With the German back at the net, Carlos fired a fierce ground stroke that the lucky loser was unable to muscle back, and the Spaniard made a dash for the finish line. With the fans on their feet chanting his name, Alcaraz earned himself a place in the history of the tournament with his second title in just three attempts.
With the victory Alcaraz has underlined his ability to withstand the pressure of big matches, improving his return on singles finals to 10-3. The Spaniard remains unbeaten in ATP Masters 1000 finals (4-0).
At 20 years of age, the world No. 2 has become the youngest player to successfully defend an ATP Masters 1000 singles title since Rafael Nadal did so in Monte Carlo and Rome in the 2005 and 2006 seasons.