(Madrid) Defending champion Carlos Alcaraz came from behind and beat Emil Ruusuvuori in straight sets 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 on Friday to avoid the worst in his first game in Madrid. the Madrid Open.

His Finnish opponent got off to a good start and was close to taking a broken lead in the second set, but Alcaraz was able to turn the tide.

The Spaniard, who will celebrate his 20th birthday next week, saved five break points in the crucial sixth game of the second set and tied it 3-3. In the next game, Alcaraz got a first break to tip the game in their favor.

After the encounter, Alcaraz apologized to fans for the tight ending.

“It wasn’t just scary for them, it was scary for me too,” Alcaraz said. I’m just happy that I was able to get this very difficult victory. A lot of people think I should win easily and not be in trouble in these matches, but each match is its own world. You have to stay humble, accept the hard times when they come and try to turn things around. ยป

Alcaraz, ranked second in the world, has just successfully defended its title at the Barcelona Open last weekend. He has the opportunity to take a step closer to returning to world No. 1 as Novak Djokovic is sidelined through injury.

Ruusuvuori beat Alcaraz on hard courts in Miami in 2021. Alcaraz won that tournament a year later before triumphing at Barcelona and Madrid in their remarkable 2022 season, which ended with a US Open title.

However, Ruusuvuori was not expected to put Alcaraz to the test on clay in Madrid, where supporters cheered on their new idol.

In the ladies, world queen Iga Swiatek easily defeated Austria’s Julia Grabner 6-3, 6-2. The holder of three major titles converted three of the five break points she obtained.

Swiatek will now face American Bernarda Pera, who defeated Tatjana Maria 6-1, 6-3.

Third seed Jessica Pegula, a runner-up last year in Madrid, defeated Poland’s Magdalena Frech 7-6(5), 6-3.

Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina had the best 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 against Anna Kalinskaya, while American Alycia Parks beat Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 7-6 (5).

Earlier on Friday, Italy’s Matteo Arnaldi caused a huge upset when he knocked out Norway’s Casper Ruud, the world’s No. 4 player, in the second round.

Coming from qualifying and ranked 105th in the world, Arnaldi defeated Ruud in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 to claim the first victory of his career against a top-10 player.

After scoring the decisive point, Arnaldi threw his arms up in the air and punched his stomach while flashing a beaming smile.

As the match went on, Arnaldi had 35 winners and broke his rival’s serve on three occasions.

The 24-year-old Ruud reached the finals of the French Open and the US Open in 2022. However, despite his triumph at the Estoril Open earlier in April, Ruud has struggled at tournaments in greater significance in 2023, including a second-round elimination from the Australian Open last January.

Andrey Rublev (No. 5) defeated Stan Wawrinka 7-5, 6-4 to improve his record on clay to 9-1 this year.