Lucky loser Jan-Lennard Struff makes ATP Masters 1000 history – ‘This is just a crazy story’

Shahida Jacobs
Jan-Lennard Struff fist pump
Jan-Lennard Struff in action

Jan-Lennard Struff continued his “incredible journey” at the Madrid Open as he became the first lucky loser to reach the final of an ATP Masters 1000 event as he set up a clash against Carlos Alcaraz.

The German lost in the second round of qualifiers at Caja Magica, but was later bumped up into the main draw following a few withdrawals and he has made the most of his lucky break.

Before Struff’s run, Thomas Johansson (Toronto 2004) and Lucas Pouille (Rome 2016) were the only lucky losers to reach the semi-final of an ATP Masters event.

Interestingly, it was Aslan Karatsev who defeated him in the qualifiers and 10 days later he got the better of the Russian, beating the same opponent 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the semi-final in two hours and 16 minutes for his first-ever Masters final.

“(I) was very happy that I got chosen for lucky loser, that I had been drawn two out of three. This is just a crazy story, I would say. I couldn’t have imagined this,” he said.

“It’s an incredible journey and story, here in Madrid, and very, very happy. You should not give up and try again always.”

After kicking off his main draw campaign with a two-set win over Lorenzo Sonego, he then beat 32nd seed Ben Shelton, Dusan Lajovic and Pedro Cachin in three sets to book a quarter-final place against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

He eked out another three-set win over the fourth set and followed it up come from behind win over Karatsev.

The world No 121 broke twice in the opening set before a single break in the second set helped Struff to take it to a decider where a break in the fifth game set up the win.

“It is amazing,” Struff said. “I didn’t think about this. I played one final before in Munich [2021] but there was no crowd because of Covid. Now I am here and [there is] an amazing crowd. I think on Sunday it will also be a very good crowd. I am very happy to reach a final and very happy with the win.”

Sunday’s final against defending champion Alcaraz in what will be a rematch of their first-round clash at Wimbledon last year when the Spaniard won in five sets.

“We played an amazing match at Wimbledon last year and I was very close to beating him but he pulled off unbelievable shots in the tie-break,” Struff said.

“This is going to be different. This is in Spain, in Madrid. I think he is 20-0 on Spanish clay courts, so it is going to be very tough. I have to go for it otherwise I will have no chance. I will try my best to beat him and win my first title.”

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