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Carlos Alcaraz Reigns Supreme in Madrid with Well-Rounded Game

Carlos Alcaraz in action ahead of the French Open

A few days into his twenties, Carlos Alcaraz of Spain won his fourth Masters 1000 title on Sunday in Madrid. He also defended his second successive title on Spanish clay after having done so in Barcelona a couple of weeks ago. At this rate, the young Spaniard is going to end up as one of the game’s greats. With Novak Djokovic on the wane and Rafael Nadal possibly on the verge of retirement, Alcaraz is already the next big hope of tennis. The completeness of his all-court game is already well-known, but with a hard-earned victory against Jan-Lennard Struff in the Madrid final, Alcaraz also reaffirmed his mental fortitude.

Carlos Alcaraz using his kick serve to good effect against Struff:

Struff managed to stretch Alcaraz in the final with his wonderful volleys and deft returns. The big German stayed close to the baseline while returning and troubled the Spaniard with some formidable returns throughout the first two sets. However, Alcaraz used his kick serve more frequently in the third set, which forced the German to move back and also meant that the latter was no longer able to take the ball early while returning. Moreover, Struff’s poor first-serve ratio also helped Alcaraz’s cause.

That improvisation showed Alcaraz’s maturity as a player and also his tennis IQ. He also thus regained the momentum that seemed to have swung in Struff’s favor after the German won the second set.

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Alcaraz was only tested in the first and the last matches of the tournament:

Alcaraz dropped only a couple of sets in the tournament–one each in his first and last matches. After Emil Ruusuvuori gave him a mighty scare in their second-round match, only Struff was able to make a match of it against the Spaniard in the final. In between, players like Grigor Dimitrov, Karen Khachanov, and Borna Coric fought hard, but Alcaraz’s win was never really in doubt against them.

Alcaraz used his much-improved serve and world-class drop shots extensively to have a vice-like grip in most of his matches. With an ability to hit powerfully off either wing and a super defense, the Spaniard will take some stopping in the upcoming tournaments and will also start as the favorite in the Italian Open starting this week.

Main Photo Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports


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