Carlos Alcaraz defends Madrid title ready to take No. 1 spot from Novak Djokovic

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Carlos Alcaraz turned 20 on May 5, and celebrated the end of his teenage years by winning his second consecutive Madrid Open title two days later, defeating Jan-Lennard Struff 6–4, 3–6, 6–3 .

It was not an easy final for Alcaraz, who lost to Struff in the third round of the 2021 French Open. Struff has a monster serve and is a great returner (commentators couldn't stop comparing him to Pete Sampras on Sunday), which allows him to set the pace with fewer points. This affects Alcaraz's game, as he is all about long rallies that allow him to show off his range of movement and killer drop shot.

After taking a close first set, Alcaraz struggled throughout the second set, looking lost and confused at times against Struff, who was completely dominant. Alcaraz has an impressive tennis toolbox, but it was useless against Struff as Alcaraz had no time to use it. Instead of being able to set himself, Alcaraz was chasing balls around the court, running from side to side as if he was playing himself.

Alcaraz managed to find himself again by the third set and held off Struff to win his 10th career title – becoming the sixth youngest man in the Open Era to win 10 tour-level titles.

After winning Madrid in 2022 (where he defeated both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic), Alcaraz opted to rest for the French Open. But this year, he is doing well. He told Amazon Prime on Sunday that he wants to go to Rome and play in the Italian Open, the final tournament before Roland Garros.

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MADRID, – MAY 07: Carlos Alcaraz of Spain celebrates victory with the tournament trophy after the Men's Singles Final match against Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany on day fourteen of the Matua Madrid Open at La Caja Magica on May 07. Celebrated. 07, 2023 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Julian Finney / Getty Images)

Alcaraj will take over No. 1 spot from Djokovic

Alcaraz looks set to regain the ATP No. 1 spot at the Rome Masters after being ranked No. 2 in 11 of the past 12 weeks behind 2023 Australian Open Novak Djokovic. And he doesn't even need to play a single game to do it.

Djokovic leads Alcaraz by just five points after missing 360 ranking points after missing out on the Madrid Open with an elbow injury. Since Alcaraz would gain 10 points just by appearing in Rome, he would recapture No. 1 no matter what.

But Alcaraz clearly has his sights set on much higher than being No. 1. Despite never playing in the Italian Open, Alcaraz has a good chance to win based on his recent results. After missing out on the 2023 Australian Open due to an elbow injury, he defeated Cam Norrie to win a title in Buenos Aires in February. He lost to Nori in the final a few weeks later in Rio, then bounced back to win three of his next four tournaments.

Alcaraz is on tears. Someone might try to stop him as the season ends in Rome and Paris, but they might not be as lucky. Alcaraz is clearly in the zone and is flourishing on his favorite surface.

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