...By Larry John for TDPel Media.
Carlos Alcaraz, the second-ranked tennis player in the world, has successfully defended his Madrid Open title by beating Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 on Sunday.
The victory has boosted Alcaraz’s chances of overtaking Novak Djokovic at the top spot in the world rankings.
He can achieve this by winning just one match at the Rome Masters, which will take place the week before the French Open from May 22 to June 11, 2023.
Alcaraz has been preparing for the Roland Garros by winning the Madrid Open in addition to his earlier triumphs at Barcelona, Buenos Aires, and Indian Wells this year.
Although he did not perform at his energetic best against Struff, who is the 65th-ranked player in the world, Alcaraz managed to stay in shape throughout the game.
Despite struggling against his German opponent, the 20-year-old successfully defended his ATP Masters 1000 crown, becoming the first player to do so at such a young age since Rafael Nadal in 2006.
During the match, Struff saved a break point at 1-1 in the crucial third set, and Alcaraz then broke after launching a long volley.
Alcaraz forced another break point at 4-1, but Struff resisted and held on until the very end.
However, in the final moments, Alcaraz won the game when Struff delivered a long backhand.
Alcaraz admitted that he enjoyed parts of the game but also suffered at times due to nerves.
He said, “Today (Sunday) I enjoyed it in parts, in other parts I suffered more than I enjoyed it, but it’s what you have to live with.
Nerves come into play and it’s difficult, but I think I enjoyed it more than I suffered today”.
In the women’s competition, the world’s second-ranked player, Aryna Sabalenka, won the title on Saturday by defeating Iga Swiatek.