Twenty consecutive ATP Tour victories on Spanish soil for 20-year-old Carlos Alcaraz.
The top seed celebrated his birthday with another brutal performance in his home country on Friday at the Mutua Madrid Open, where he overcame stiff resistance from Borna Coric to secure a 6-4, 6-3 semifinal victory at the ATP Masters on gravel. 1000.
Alcaraz had to be at his best to overcome a decisive performance from Coric. The extra variety in the Spaniards’ play proved key to his triumph, as he regularly pulled the energetic Coric around the Manolo Santana stadium, converting four of six break points to seal victory in an hour and 41 minutes.
It means a lot to me to play another final here in Madrid, Alcaraz said. It’s such a special place to me and I have great memories ever since I came to play here [as an] under 12. Of course last year was great.
Turning 20 like this is special, so I’m going to enjoy the final here and of course I’ll try to make all of Spain happy.
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After successfully defending his Barcelona crown two weeks ago, Alcaraz will bid for his fourth consecutive ATP Tour title in Spain on Sunday when he faces either Aslan Karatsev or Jan-Lennard Struff in the championship match. Should he defend the trophy in the Caja Magica, the Spaniard can return to number 1 in the Pepperstone ATP rankings simply by playing a match at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia later this month.
I like playing here in Madrid. I always try to make [the fans] happy and happy myself too, said Alcaraz, when asked about the pressure of playing at home. I’m not thinking about the pressure here, I’m just thinking about playing a great game, getting good results. It’s a really special place for me, I enjoy every second here, so that’s all I think about.
While Coric’s speed down the field could have tempted Alcaraz to deviate from his signature drop shot on Friday, the tactic still allowed Alcaraz to disrupt Coric’s basic rhythm. That proved crucial for the top seed to break open a tight opening set by claiming the lone break in the fifth game.
With both players making few unforced errors, the game featured a series of long exchanges that tested the physicality of the players. Although he retook an early break to make the second set 2-2, Coric’s efforts seemed to catch up to him and he had no answer to the barrage of fierce forehands sent to him by the world number 2 .
Alcaraz secured two more breaks from the Croats to round out his win and improve to 28–2 for the season. He finished with 30 winners against Corics 22 and was especially effective on the second run. The Spaniard won 58 percent (14/24) of the points against his opponent’s second throw.
It was a goal for me at the start of the game, I tried to start the point aggressively, Alcaraz said. This is something I look for every game, trying to attack on the return and of course trying to play with my forehand. I feel really comfortable playing with that. I think I mainly hurt the opponent with the forehand and of course the drop shot, so this is key and I try to do it in every match.
Having already won titles in Buenos Aires, Indian Wells and Barcelona this season, Alcaraz can leap above Daniil Medvedev into first place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin by claiming his fourth ATP Tour crown of 2023 in Madrid .
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