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Preview: Jan-Lennard Struff vs. Carlos Alcaraz - prediction, head-to-head, tournament so far

Sports Mole previews Tuesday's Madrid Open fourth-round match between Jan-Lennard Struff and Carlos Alcaraz, including predictions, head-to-head and their tournament so far.

In a repeat of the 2023 Madrid Open final, Jan-Lennard Struff and defending champion Carlos Alcaraz reunite in Tuesday's fourth-round showdown on the clay.

Both men have come through their opening two clashes without dropping a set so far, and either Andrey Rublev or Tallon Griekspoor will await the victor in the quarter-finals.

Match preview

Jan-Lennard Struff in action in April 2024© Reuters

Replicating last year's run to the Madrid Open final in subsequent Masters tournaments has been a futile endeavour for Germany's number two Struff, but his penchant for performances on clay remains alive and well, as evidenced his exploits in the Bavarian Championships just a couple of weeks ago.

After defeating American Taylor Fritz for his inaugural ATP Tour crown - having previously tried and failed on three occasions to come up trumps in top-level finals - Struff eased past Spain's Jaume Munar in his opening Madrid battle before upsetting Ugo Humbert in round two.

Seeded 10 places lower than the Frenchman, Struff earned a 7-5 6-4 success in one hour and 37 minutes, where despite registering as many as five double faults, the 34-year-old was not made to pay for such mistakes and did not face a single break point on the afternoon.

The serves that did land for the experienced German were devastating, as he won 76% of points behind his first and a striking 72% behind his second, while also striking double the amount of winners that Humbert managed, 30 compared to the Frenchman's 15.

Struff had suffered a trio of third-round exits at Indian Wells, Miami and Monte Carlo earlier this year before continuing his quest to go one better in Madrid, and having ended his agonising wait for an ATP Tour crown in his homeland, the 23rd seed has overcome a major psychological hurdle ahead of Tuesday's rematch.

Carlos Alcaraz in action at the Madrid Open on April 26, 2024© Reuters

Alcaraz reserved a kind word for last year's beaten finalist after following up his emphatic victory over Alexander Shevchenko with a straightforward beating of Brazil's Thiago Seyboth Wild in round three, albeit one that he made more complicated than it should have been towards the end.

The reigning champion - donning strapping on his right forearm following his recent injury - was on course for a second-set bagel before being broken while serving for the match, but he quickly dusted himself down to triumph 6-3 6-3 in one hour and 15 minutes.

Alcaraz was still holding back a tad on his ferocious forehands, but his all-around skill set came to the fore with tremendous net play and sweetly-struck drop shots, while a couple of untimely unforced errors from Seyboth Wild also helped the second seed on his way to round four.

Also converting four of his six break opportunities and winning 87% of his first-serve points, Alcaraz remains on course for a magnificent Madrid three-peat and is now on a 13-match winning streak at the ATP 1000 tournament, where he boasts a staggering win rate of 93.9%.

Furthermore, the 20-year-old has only been knocked out from one of his previous 13 fourth-round ties in Masters tournaments - going out to Grigor Dimitrov at this stage in Shanghai last year - but he has conceded that he must be at his brilliant best against a vengeful Struff.

Tournament so far

Jan-Lennard Struff:

Second round: vs. Jaume Munar 6-1 7-5
Third round: vs. Ugo Humbert 7-5 6-4

Carlos Alcaraz:

Second round: vs. Alexander Shevchenko 6-2 6-1
Third round: vs. Thiago Seyboth Wild 6-3 6-3

Head To Head

Madrid Open (2023) - Final: Alcaraz wins 6-4 3-6 6-3
Wimbledon (2022) - First round: Alcaraz wins 4-6 7-5 4-6 7-6[3] 6-4
French Open (2021) - Fourth round: Struff wins 6-4 7-6[3] 6-2

Tuesday's last-16 contest will see Alcaraz and Struff cross paths on the ATP Tour for the fourth time, and each of their previous three ties have been at ATP 1000 level or above, including last year's Madrid Open showpiece.

On that occasion, Struff managed to force a deciding set against his youthful foe but ultimately went down in three, prior to which a marathon five-setter in the first round of Wimbledon 2022 also went Alcaraz's way.

However, the German came out on top in their maiden meeting at the 2021 French Open - defeating the then-teenager in straight sets - but Alcaraz has certainly come on leaps and bounds since then.

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We say: Alcaraz to win in three sets

The 6-3 6-3 scoreline did not tell the entire story for Alcaraz against Seyboth Wild, who troubled the two-time defending champion towards the end, and any lingering concerns over his forearm injury could leave the door ajar for Struff to work the Spaniard's forehand side.

The 2023 runner-up has the physical edge on Alcaraz and has already caught the eye on clay in 2024, but we still have faith in the holder to overcome any slight blips en route to the quarter-finals.

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