The Spaniard avoided by the hairs the surprise of the tournament against Ruusuvuori and will see off Dimitrov in the third round


The Spanish tennis player Carlos Alcaraz came back (2-6, 6-4, 6-2) from the Finn Emil Ruusuvuori to overcome this Friday his debut at the Mutua Madrid Open, fourth Masters 1,000 of the season, a good scare to start the defense of the title that quotes him with the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in the third round.

The local idol, in the role of the absent Rafa Nadal, was slow to enjoy on the Manolo Santana Court, a place that has measured the progression of the Murcian in the last two years like few others. In 2021 he played his first match of a Masters 1,000 and last year he beat Nadal and Djokovic, premiering the ‘Top 10’ in the world with the title.

The Alcaraz phenomenon, champion of 9 tournaments (three Masters 1,000 and one US Open among them), continues to shine at almost 20 years of age, despite certain physical setbacks, with a 24-2 record in 2023. The ’24’ had a dose of suspense that nobody expected, but Ruusuvuori deserved at least the benefit of the doubt because he seemed capable of the bell.

The Finn, who beat the Spaniard in the only precedent between the two in 2021 in Miami, subtracted as if he were Djokovic and won 90% of points with his first serve until well into the second set. The service did not help Alcaraz, nor did his nerves, also missing a dozen forehands. With a lot of confidence, Ruusuvuori saw himself 1-4.

People looked upset in the stands and the Finn closed the door on the Spanish epic by scoring the first set at the fourth attempt (2-6). Alcaraz, frustrated as few times, was furious with the defense of his rival and with the balls that narrowly escaped him, to the point of throwing away his racket at 2-3.

With 2-6, 2-3 and 15-40, another moment came for the epic that did turn out. The man from El Palmar saved five ‘break’ balls and lit the fuse for Manolo Santana to find his first break balls in the match. The second was taken advantage of by the local idol, with the roar so far of the tournament, united player and fans, in the 4-3. The Murcian found the winning points and Ruusuvuori lowered his repertoire to see himself in a very different third set.

Alcaraz began to enjoy, to smile with the punches that had been expected, as in the 4-1 sentence, fist up. The current champion in Madrid, aspiring to repeat the title as he did in Barcelona last week, found himself in time to continue giving a show in the capital, to continue opting to recover the number one in the world, with the appointment now against a Dimitrov who beat the Frenchman Gregoire Barrere 7-6(6), 7-6(2).