2 May 2024

Flawless Rublev knocks out champion Alcaraz to move into Madrid semis

8:17 am on 2 May 2024
Spain's Carlos Alcaraz during the 2024 Madrid Open.

Spain's Carlos Alcaraz during the 2024 Madrid Open. Photo: AFP

Carlos Alcaraz's hopes of becoming the first player to win three-straight Madrid Open titles came undone as the second seed fell to a 4-6 6-3 6-2 loss in front of his home crowd to Russian seventh seed Andrey Rublev in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

The 20-year-old two-times grand slam champion was not at his best despite taking the opening set in 41 minutes, while Rublev put in a dominant performance to roar back and snap Alcaraz's 14-match winning streak at the ATP Masters 1000 tournament.

It will be Rublev's first semi-final in Madrid. The 26-year-old was on a four-match losing streak coming into the claycourt event.

"Maybe this week is a relief but then next week we go back to the same... so better not to think this way because when you start to think 'Oh, how good everything is' that's what happened at the beginning of the season," Rublev said.

"Then, for six weeks, I wasn't winning anything. It's better to not think at all. It's not bad, it's not good. It's just a moment. It happens to everyone, every player has been through these moments.

"The most important thing is to keep working and improving and then remember that one week can change anything."

Rublev completely outplayed Alcaraz in the deciding set, racing to a 4-1 lead before he wrapped up his comeback.

Rublev will next face the winner of the clash between American 12th seed Taylor Fritz and Argentina's Francisco Cerundolo, who play later on Wednesday.

Alcaraz was the last Spaniard standing after 22-times Grand Slam winner Rafa Nadal exited the tournament following a straight sets defeat to the Czech Republic's 31st-ranked Jiri Lehecka in the round of 16 on Tuesday.

Jannik Sinner of Italy in action

Jannik Sinner of Italy in action Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Having successfully defended his Indian Wells title in March and then reached the Miami Open quarter-finals, Alcaraz injured his right forearm during a practice session in Monaco and he continues to struggle with the problem that has derailed the start of his claycourt season.

"I have to keep working to recover my normal forehand without thinking about my forearm. Today I thought about it more than yesterday," Alcaraz told reporters.

"I think that in Rome, I will continue to play with it (an arm sleeve) as a precaution.

"The balance is positive, but when I go out on court I don't want to lose. If we look at the overall it has been a very good week."

Sinner withdraws

Italian top seed Jannik Sinner, who was due to face Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime in the Madrid Open quarter-finals on Thursday, has pulled out from the tournament with a hip injury.

"Very sad to have to withdraw from my next match here in Madrid," Sinner said on social media platform X. "My hip has been bothering me this week and has slowly been getting more painful.

"Taking the advice from the doctors we decided it's best to not play further and make it worse."

- Reuters