The love affair between the fans at the Mutua Madrid Open and Carlos Alcaraz continued to flourish on Friday. There was a palpable atmosphere in every corner of the Caja Mágica as the Murcia native, who survived a tough tournament opener, was spurred to his first victory of the 2023 edition of the event by the Spanish spectators.
“The fans were brilliant”, acknowledged a grateful Alcaraz after a difficult opener on the clay of the Spanish capital. The packed stands of the Manolo Santana Stadium stuck with the defending champion through some testing stretches, enabling him to turn a match full of challenges into a sprint over the finish line.
“During the tough moments I endured, and there were several, they were there all the time. They transmitted positive energy to me. Without them it would’ve been twice as difficult and maybe I wouldn’t even have been able to win this match”, admitted Alcaraz after sealing the win.
Carlos’ words were more than justified on an afternoon that demanded extraordinary mental strength from the number one seed. An exceptional performance from Emil Ruusuvuori forced him to dig deep and come back in a match that was decided on the smallest of details, and during which he was one point away from being a set and a break down.
Alcaraz continues to nurture his connection with the fans in the Caja Mágica. In 2021, Madrid was behind Alcaraz on the day of his 18th birthday. Last year, the player from Murcia thanked the crowds in Madrid for their unconditional support as he made a successful assault on the title. It was a victory during which he defeated giants of the game such as Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev, three clashes for the ages which he came through thanks to the support of fans.
On his third visit to the tournament, that support is more evident than ever.
“Madrid is one of the places where I most like to play. Once again, they’ve shown why it’s the most amazing place to play tennis. What I experienced today was very special”.