Carlos Alcaraz survives the Madrid thriller vs. Jan-Lennard Struff

Carlos Alcaraz prevailed over Jan-Lennard Struff after nearly three hours

by Jovica Ilic
Carlos Alcaraz survives the Madrid thriller vs. Jan-Lennard Struff
© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Two-time defending Madrid Masters champion Carlos Alcaraz survived a challenging day at the office on Tuesday, reaching the quarter-final. In the repeat of last year's title duel, the crowd favorite prevailed over Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3, 6-7, 7-6 in two hours and 52 minutes.

Thus, Alcaraz celebrated his 14th consecutive victory at Caja Magica, matching Rafael Nadal's record and moving into the quarter-final. Struff trailed 5-2 in the final set and faced four match points on the return in game nine.

The German denied them and pulled the break back, prolonging the battle and missing a break chance at 5-5. Carlos reached a tie break and rattled off four straight points at 3-4 to seal the deal and remain on the title course.

Jan-Lennard fired 29 service winners and came to the net 50 times. Carlos landed 39 winners and 33 unforced errors, outplaying his opponent from the baseline and earning the victory in the mid-range exchanges.

Carlos Alcaraz, Madrid 2024© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The Spaniard denied eight out of ten break points, struggling behind the first serve but prevailing in the crucial moments after delivering three return games.

Carlos defended his second serve superbly in the opener, fending off all three break chances and claiming one return game from three opportunities. Alcaraz squandered a break chance in the second game of the encounter before Struff closed it after deuces.

The home star had to dig deep in the third game after presenting his rival with three break points. Carlos denied two with service winners, and Jan-Lennard wasted the third with a loose backhand, missing a chance to move in front.

World no. 3 held after deuce in game five after the German's wayward backhand and stepped in on the return in the next one. Carlos earned a break at 15 after Jan-Lennard's backhand error, moving in front and cementing the advantage after deuce in game seven.

Carlos Alcaraz, Madrid 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Carlos Alcaraz prevailed over Jan-Lennard Struff in Madrid.

Alcaraz served for the opener at 5-3 and drew Struff's mistake after deuce, claiming the opener 6-3 after 45 minutes.

Like in the opener, the Spaniard could not find the range behind the first serve, creating a buffer on the second and losing serve once. The German followed that pace, erasing an early deficit and clinching a tie break after almost an hour.

The defending champion grabbed a break in the first game with a forced error, building a set and a break advantage. World no. 3 landed a drop shot winner in the second game, rattling off six of the previous seven games and moving closer to the finish line.

Instead, Struff placed a forehand return winner in the fourth game, pulling the break back and locking the result at 2-2. Jan-Lennard held at love in the fifth game after a powerful forehand down the line winner, and Carlos responded with a comfortable hold in the next one for 3-3.

Carlos Alcaraz, Madrid 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Struff claimed the seventh game with an unreturned serve, and Alcaraz mirrored that a few minutes later, locking the result at 4-4. The German produced another hold at love in the ninth game, opening a 5-4 advantage and forcing the Spaniard to serve to stay in the set.

Carlos painted a forehand winner at 30-30 and closed the game, extending the drama. They held at 30 in games 11 and 12, introducing a tie break. A powerful forehand sent the Spaniard 2-1 up, and he grabbed a mini-break in the next point after causing the rival's error.

Struff delivered two mini-breaks with fine returns, moving 4-3 in front and turning the tables. Jan-Lennard landed two winners behind the initial shot, rattling off six points and creating three set points. Alcaraz denied two on his serve before Struff converted the third at 6-5 with an ace down the T line, forcing a decider after an hour and 43 minutes.

The Spaniard had to work hard in the final set after a flying start, denying four out of five break points in the closing stages and bringing the victory home after standing three points away from the loss. Alcaraz passed Struff at the net in the fourth game, earning a break and forging a 3-1 advantage.

The home favorite cemented the lead with a volley winner in the fifth game, controlling the scoreboard and moving closer to the finish line. Carlos saved a break point in the seventh game with a service winner and held after Jan-Lennard's loose forehand, moving 5-2 up and hoping to seal the deal in the following minutes.

Struff held at love in game eight and faced the ultimate challenge on the return in game nine.

Carlos Alcaraz, Madrid 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Alcaraz wasted four match points, playing loose shots and failing to emerge at the top.

Jan-Lennard created three break chances and seized the last after Carlos' wayward forehand, pulling the break back and extending the battle. The German held for 5-5 and earned a break point in game 11 with a short backhand crosscourt winner that could have sent him closer to a turnaround.

The Spaniard saved it with a service winner and held, remaining on the positive side. The set went into a tie break, and Struff grabbed four straight points at 0-3 to forge the advantage. Alcaraz painted a backhand down the line winner in the eighth point for 4-4 and constructed two match points with a lob winner at 5-4. The defending champion seized the first, winning four consecutive points and booking a place in the last eight.

Carlos Alcaraz Jan-Lennard Struff