A year on from their 2022 final clash, Carlos Alcaraz conjured a repeat result and a similarly scintillating performance against Alexander Zverev to charge into the quarter-finals at this year’s Mutua Madrid Open.
Alcaraz was dominant from the outset in Tuesday’s clash, barely putting a foot wrong in his 6-1, 6-2 triumph against the two-time champion Zverev on Manolo Santana Stadium. He dropped just eight points behind serve and was a constant menace on return as he broke the German’s serve four times in an emphatic 83-minute triumph
“For me it’s amazing to play the level that I played today,” said Alcaraz. “It’s been a question mark for me… I played well, I feel really good right now and this match gives me a lot of confidence.
“At the beginning [I felt nerves], but you have to handle [them]. The best players in the world handle the nerves really [well] and I want to be like them. Trying not to show the opponent that I’m nervous at all. I just want to enjoy playing here in the Caja Magica in front of my home crowd. It’s been amazing for me to play here, so I just enjoy every moment.”
Stepping on court seeking his 18th straight ATP Tour victory on Spanish soil, Alcaraz immediately set about demonstrating his best level to the vocal home fans. He struck the ball with power and accuracy from the first game to heap pressure on Zverev and broke the German’s serve in the second and sixth games en route to the opening set.
Zverev, who prevailed in the pair’s most recent previous ATP Head2Head meeting at Roland Garros last year, was unable to raise his level to match the 19-year-old Spaniard. Alcaraz reeled off five games in a row from 1-2 in the second set as his lightning-fast movement around the court enabled him to redirect his opponent’s heavy groundstrokes with ease.
The Spaniard finished the match with 21 winners to Zverev’s nine, and his triumph improved his ATP Head2Head record against the German to 2-3. Alcaraz will take on Karen Khachanov in the quarter-finals in the Spanish capital after the 10th seed downed Monte-Carlo champion Andrey Rublev 7-6(8), 6-4 earlier on Tuesday
Now 26-2 for the season, Alcaraz has extra motivation as he pursues his fourth tour-level title of the year in Madrid. If he successfully defends his trophy in the Spanish capital, he will be guaranteed to usurp Novak Djokovic and return to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings simply by playing a match at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome later this month.
“I will try to play this level,” said Alcaraz when asked about his quarter-final against Khachanov. “I will say this is my best level. I have to show that in the quarter-final, but obviously playing this match gives me a lot of confidence… Let’s see what happens.”
Also in action Tuesday, Borna Coric escaped Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(5) to advance to the Madrid quarter-finals for the first time since 2017.
Locked in the third-set tie-break, Coric earned a mini break at 5/5 with a dead let cord that left the Spaniard no chance of retrieving the ball. The World No. 20 Coric closed out the three-hour, 28-minute victory on the next point.
The Croatian will next meet German Daniel Altmaier, who defeated home hope Jaume Munar 6-3, 6-0 to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final. The 24-year-old Altmaier, who was slotted into the main draw as a lucky loser, won 12 of 15 points off his second delivery and saved all four break points faced to advance.
Altmaier is the first lucky loser in the Madrid quarter-finals since Coric’s run to the last eight in 2017.