Carlos Alcaraz to turn pressure into 'motivation' for Madrid Masters title defence

World No 2 aims to become the second player after Nadal to successfully defend the title in Madrid

Carlos Alcaraz retained his Barcelona Open title last week and will now aim to defend the Madrid Masters crown. AFP
Powered by automated translation

Carlos Alcaraz said he will convert any pressure at the Madrid Masters into "motivation" as the world No 2 aims to emulate his Barcelona Open success by defending his title.

The 19-year-old Spaniard thrilled the home crowd on Sunday by retaining his Barcelona trophy, and he is once again defending champion in Madrid this week.

Alcaraz has also won titles at Buenos Aires and Indian Wells this season, shrugging off an injury-hit start to the year to build a 23-2 win-loss record.

In the absence of injured Rafael Nadal, even more expectation is focused on Alcaraz in Madrid, and he says he will thrive on the atmosphere of the home crowds in the Spanish capital.

"I don't take it as pressure, actually the complete opposite. For me it's motivation," said Alcaraz.

"It's a pleasure to see so many people, I like playing in front of such big crowds, and even more so in Spain. It's a really big motivation."

Alcaraz will aim to become only the second player after Nadal to successfully defend the title in Madrid, but failure to do so will not affect his confidence as the US Open champion continues to prepare for Roland Garros, where he will be among the favourites.

"Every tournament we go to, we think we can win it and we're going to try and win it. But if we don't, it's not a failure for me," said Alcaraz, who will face Emil Ruusuvuori or Ugo Humbert in his opening match in Madrid.

"Leaving a tournament thinking I have failed would have more to do with the level of my tennis or my attitude, that's the most important thing for me. If I do well mentally and I play well, I don't take it as a failure."

Stefanos Tsitsipas was the beaten finalist in Barcelona and the Greek said he has taken plenty of positives from last week after a mixed season so far.

After missing out on a first Grand Slam title in January with defeat to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final, Tsitsipas went out early in Rotterdam and Indian Wells before reaching the fourth round in Miami and the Monte Carlo quarters.

The 24-year-old world No 5 then bounced back in Barcelona and his recent form has him in good spirits with the French Open starting at the end of May.

"The run I had in Barcelona brought me joy because after the Australian Open I didn't go deep in tournaments," he said.

Stefanos Tsitsipas finished runner-up to Carlos Alcaraz at the Barcelona Open. Getty

"Now I've had a first glimpse of what it is to be strong again. Things are looking pretty bright."

Tsitsipas could come up against Alcaraz in the Madrid final and the Greek said it was difficult to match the world No 2's focus and dedication to the sport.

"In order to get there I'd have to spend hours on the court practicing, also hours in the gym working out and hours in my room analysing my past performances and trying to get better," he said.

Tsitsipas said the higher altitude of the Spanish capital offered him a "small advantage", adding: "I'm getting adjusted to that. It's something that I've done pretty well in the past few years. I like the altitude, I think it's good for my game."

Updated: April 26, 2023, 7:44 AM