Carlos Alcaraz claims 20th straight win on Spanish soil to celebrate 20th birthday

Carlos Alcaraz in action

Carlos Alcaraz has set up a Madrid Open final on his 20th birthday with his 20th straight win on Spanish soil.

Alcaraz celebrated the end of his teens by overcoming the resistance of Borna Coric and clinch a 6-4, 6-3 semi-final victory at the clay-court ATP Masters 1000.

Alcaraz had to be at his best to overcome Coric’s tenacity.

The added diversity in the Spaniard’s game proved crucial to his victory, as he repeatedly dragged the eager Coric about Manolo Santana Stadium and converted four of six break points to win in one hour and 41 minutes.

“It means a lot to me, playing a final again here in Madrid,” said Carlos Alcaraz. “It’s such a special place for me and I have great memories since I came here to play [as an] under-12. Of course last year was amazing.

“Turning 20 like that is special, so I will enjoy the final here and of course I will try to make all of Spain happy.”

After successfully defending his Barcelona title two weeks ago, Alcaraz will compete for his fourth ATP Tour title in Spain on Sunday when he faces Aslan Karatsev or Jan-Lennard Struff in the final.

If he successfully defends his title at the Caja Magica, the Spaniard may reclaim the top spot in the ATP Rankings by playing a match at the Rome Masters later this month.

“I enjoy playing here in Madrid. I always try to make [the fans] happy and myself happy as well,” said Alcaraz, when asked about the pressure of playing in front of a home crowd.

“I don’t think about the pressure here, I just think 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 quickness around the court may have forced Alcaraz to abandon his trademark drop shot on Friday, the approach still allowed him to disturb the Cincy champion’s baseline rhythm. That proved key for the top seed, who broke open a close first set by gaining its sole break in the fifth game.

The match featured a series of lengthy exchanges that tested the players’ physicality, with both players making few unforced errors. Despite reclaiming an early break to tie the second set at 2-2, Coric’s efforts looked to catch up with him, as he had no response to the World No 2’s blitz of furious forehands.

“It was a goal for me at the beginning of the match, trying to start the point playing aggressive,” said Alcaraz. “This is something I look for in every match, 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 hurt the opponent especially with the forehand and of course the drop shot, so this is a key and I’m trying to do it in every match.”

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