Madrid Hat-Trick Aspirations for Alcaraz are Ended by Rublev

By Sam Jacot Andrey Rublev stopped two-time reigning champion Carlos Alcaraz’s bid for an unprecedented third straight triumph at the ATP Masters 1000 event on Wednesday, earning the greatest victory of his season.

After two hours and one minute, the seventh seed defeated the No. 3 in the PIF ATP Rankings 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 by opening his shoulders and playing with confidence throughout the quarterfinal match.

“I think the serve saved me a lot of times today,” Rublev stated. “I think the key was I was completely calm the whole match. I did not say one word, even if I was losing. That was the key and I was able to serve even better near the end. In the beginning, I was not serving that well but little by little, after set one, I served better and better and finished really well.”

The 26-year-old, who was playing at Manolo Santana Stadium under cover, occasionally overpowered Alcaraz with his powerful forehand wing hits. After defeating Jan-Lennard Struff for two hours and fifty minutes in the fourth round, Rublev struggled to perform at his best and struck thirty winners. He also often stepped inside the baseline to rush the Spaniard.

With this season’s 19th tour-level victory, Rublev raised his record against Top 3 opponents to 8-10. Before Wednesday, his most recent Top 3 victory came against Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Nitto ATP Finals in 2022.

Alcaraz wanted to win three straight titles in Madrid and make history as the first player to do it. In his match against Rublev, the 20-year-old Spanish player got off to a fast start, but he was penalized for dropping the ball short. The World No. 8 repeatedly found the corners to cause the first defeat on Spanish territory at Alcaraz since Madrid in 2021.

Despite coming into the clay-court tournament fresh off a four-match losing streak, Rublev has returned to his peak form. According to Infosys ATP Stats, the 15-time tour-level titlist made 74% of the match’s first serves. After powerful initial deliveries, the titlist frequently used powerful groundstrokes, which Alcaraz was unable to counter in sets two and three.

Rublev, who only lost one set in Madrid, will play in his ninth ATP Masters 1000 semifinal against either Francisco Cerundolo or Taylor Fritz.

“When you start to think of how good everything is, then for six weeks I was not winning at all. So it is better to not think at all,”  Rublev said. “That it is just a moment and it happens to everyone. Everyone has been through these moments and the most important thing is to keep working and keep improving.”

The only other victory at this level for Rublev occurred in Monte-Carlo the previous season. He is presently ranked ninth in the PIF ATP Live Race To Turin and won an ATP 250 championship in Hong Kong earlier this year.

Alcaraz departs Madrid with a record of 18–5 for the year. This season, he had only one championship win—his fifth ATP Masters 1000 title—at Indian Wells. Due to a right arm injury, the two-time major winner was unable to participate in clay-court competitions in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona. He had to wear straps during all four of his matches in Madrid.

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