Jan-Lennard Struff wrote history at the Madrid Masters! The German lost to Aslan Karatsev in the qualifying draw and entered the main action as a lucky loser. Using the second chance with both hands, Struff delivered six victories in Caja Magica to advance into the title clash, his second on the ATP Tour.
Jan-Lennard and Aslan Karatsev met for the second time in ten days in the semi-final, and the German scored a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory in two hours and 18 minutes for a place in his first Masters 1000 final at 33. The hard-hitting Struff has played well on the fast Madrid clay, firing many service winners and producing reliable strokes from both wings to achieve a career-best result.
Jan-Lennard will face the most formidable obstacle en route to his first Masters 1000 title, with the defending champion Carlos Alcaraz awaiting on Sunday's final. The German blasted 38 service winners, 15 more than the Russian.
They had a similar number of winners and unforced errors, and Jan-Lennard claimed only two more points than his rival.
Jan-Lennard Struff is the first lucky loser in a Masters 1000 final.
Karatsev had a massive advantage in the most advanced rallies.
However, Struff erased the deficit in the shortest range up to four strokes, mainly thanks to those 38 unreturned serves. Jan-Lennard defended five out of seven break points and stole Aslan's serve three times from nine opportunities to emerge at the top.
Both players served well in the encounter's opening three games before the returners stepped in. Karatsev netted a forehand in the fourth game to lose serve and pulled it back a few minutes later after Struff's loose volley.
With a boost on his side, the Russian painted a forehand down the line winner in the seventh game to deliver his second consecutive break and move 4-3 in front. The German saved a set point on his serve in the ninth game before the Russian wrapped up the opener with a hold at 15 in the next one for 6-4.
Jan-Lennard barely lost a point behind the initial shot in the second set and kept the pressure on the other side. He grabbed a break in the second game for an early advantage and held with a service winner in the next one for 3-0.
The German served for the set at 5-3 and held at 15 to bring it home and introduce a decider after 80 minutes. Karatsev had a chance to create an early lead in the final set, earning two break points in the second game and squandering them after Struff's winners.
Jan-Lennard forged the crucial advantage with a break in game five and overpowered the opponent who struggled with a left thigh injury. The Russian faced four match points on his serve in the ninth game and denied them to show his fighting spirit and prolong the action. Struff left those chances behind and fired a service winner at 5-4 for a place in the title clash.
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