Jan-Lennard Struff had to wait ten days to get his own back on Aslan Karatsev at the Mutua Madrid Open and his victory today has earned him a place in the grand finale against Carlos Alcaraz on Sunday.
The German mounted a comeback in Friday’s night session in the Manolo Santana Stadium for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Karatsev, who came through qualifying with a win over the German. Struff, who was added into the main draw as a lucky loser after a last-minute withdrawal, has made the most of his golden opportunity in the Caja Mágica.
Despite the fact that the German started stronger, with a break in game four (3-1), Karatsev’s reaction earned him four straight games to turn the set around and eventually make it his own (4-6) on the basis of 83% of points won on his first serve and three break points converted of the five he created.
In the second set Struff bounced back and managed to break his opponent’s serve in the second game, then convert his advantage in the next (3-0). From there, the world No. 65 served out a set (6-3) in which he committed far fewer unforced errors than Karatsev (6-11) and served up fifteen aces.
The Warstein-born player continued to stamp his authority on the match with his powerful serve, which reached speeds exceeding 220km/h, to break Karatsev’s serve in the fifth game of the third set (3-2). He then held on to his lead until he had sealed the deal (6-4) in two hours and 18 minutes.
The result means Struff becomes the first lucky loser ever to reach the final of a Masters 1000 event. However, this year, South Korean player Soonwoo Kwon achieved the feat at the ATP 250 in Adelaide. He will now meet Alcaraz in a bid to claim his first ever ATP title, having lost the final in Munich (2021). The German’s head to head with the Spaniard is currently level (1-1) after beating him in the third round of Roland Garros (2021) and losing to him in his opener at Wimbledon (2022).