Jan-Lennard Struff broke through into the Madrid Masters final as he won a battle of also-rans against Aslan Karatsev to set up a final with home hero Carlos Alcaraz on Friday.
The German who gained main draw entry as a lucky loser after losing his final qualifying match to fellow qualifier Karatsev 10 days ago, will be the first qualifier to reach the final of a Masters 1000 event.
The 33-year-old needed five points to seize victory after two and a quarter hours, with Karatseve entering the court with a heavy left thigh strapping and getting an injury timeout in the closing stages of the semi-final.
Struff will be playing his second final after losing a title bid on clay in Munich in 2021 without a crowd due to COVID.
The German actually owns a clay win over Alcaraz as he beat the rising Spaniard in Roland Garros in 2021 and lost to him in five Wimbledon sets last summer.
“I’m very happy to reach the final,” the winner said. “On Sunday there will be a big crowd but they will all not be for me.
“This win was certainly not easy.” he said of a contest where he struck 37 winners.
“I knewI had to put the ball in the court and play aggressive. he saved four match points and I knew I had to get it done at 5-3 (in the final set).”
Struff added: “I stayed calm, served well and went for my shots.”
Karatsev played the Australian Open two years ago as a qualifier
“I feel Aslan had some issues at the end,” Struff said. “He was struggling with his leg, which is very unfortunate.”
Main photo:- Jan-Lennard Struff winning today’s Madrid Semi-Final