Carlos Alcaraz leads trio of Spaniards to advance at Mutua Madrid Open

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Tournament favorite Carlos Alcaraz made relatively short work of 26th-seeded Grigor Dimitrov on Sunday, winning 6-2, 7-5 to advance to the Round of 16 of the Mutua Madrid Open.

That sets the stage for a rematch of last year’s Madrid final with Alexander Zverev, won by Alcaraz, though Zverev took the most recent meeting in the Roland Garros quarterfinals.

“I really want to play that match. We played a few times, head-to-head he is up,” Alcaraz said. “I really want to show my great level here in front of my home crowd. I have great memories from last year in the final, but obviously I have to be really focused in that match.”

Alcaraz coasted in the first set before earning the match victory in 92 total minutes — 56 of which came in the second stanza. The Spaniard dominated on first- and second-serve points won, converting 74 percent and 75 percent, respectively.

Dimitrov, who hails from Bulgaria, countered by converting 62 percent and 48 percent.

The match nearly went to a third set as Dimitrov took advantage of a 40-15 lead with things tied 4-4 in the second set to grab a 5-4 edge.

But Alcaraz responded to tie things back up with a love game, then took the next two games to close out the victory against his practice partner in Madrid.

“When we practiced, it helped me a lot in the tactical game, what I had to do,” Alcaraz said. “Obviously I was focused on myself all the time, trying to hit the ball really clear and with a lot of power. That was the goal at the beginning of the match, trying to play aggressive all the time.”

Alcarez, who turns 20 on Friday, is ranked No. 2 in the world after becoming the youngest ATP athlete ever to finish No. 1 last fall while also becoming the youngest men’s champion at the U.S. Open since Pete Sampras (1990).

Natives of Spain went 3-1 overall on the day, as 29th-seeded Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Jaume Munar also advanced.

Davidovich Fokina defeated No. 6 seed Holger Rune of Denmark 7-6 (1), 5-7, 7-6 (5). Despite getting outscored on aces 6-2, Davidovich Fokina won on first serves and dominated at the net, converting 71 percent. That was opposed to Rune’s 55 percent.

Munar rallied to take care of Italy’s Matteo Arnaldi 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 by winning on service points and returns. Munar converted 62 percent on service points and 44 percent on return points.

Roberto Bautista Agut, seeded 20th, was knocked out by Russia’s Karen Khachanov, the No. 10 seed, in a 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 result. The match, which lasted 2:55, was tied three games apiece in the third set when Khachanov took control, winning the next three games, including a love game in the decider.

Joining Khachanov as a winner from Russia was Andrey Rublev, seeded fifth, who cruised past Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka (No. 28) 6-2, 7-5.

A pair of players from Germany also joined the winner’s club, as Alexander Zverev (No. 13) blasted France’s Hugo Grenier 6-1, 6-0, and Daniel Altmaier defeated fellow German Yannick Hanfmann 7-6 (3), 6-3.

The other match of the day saw Croatia’s Borna Coric (No. 17) upend No. 12 Hubert Hurkacz of Poland, 7-6 (3), 6-3.

–Field Level Media

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