#NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz booked a spot into his first ATP Tour semi-final at the AnyTech365 Andalucia Open after an electrifying 6-2, 6-4 victory over Casper Ruud on Friday.
In a battle between the two youngest players left standing in Marbella, it was the 17-year-old who came out swinging and fearlessly crushing winners off both wings against 22-year-old Ruud. Alcaraz broke the Norwegian’s serve five times en route to the last four.
The victory made Alcaraz the youngest ATP Tour semi-finalist in seven years, since 17-year-old Alexander Zverev’s run at Hamburg in 2014. Alcaraz is contesting his sixth ATP Tour main draw in Marbella.
Alcaraz made a fast start against Ruud on Estadio Manolo Santana, powering to a double break with his heavy groundstrokes. The Spaniard took the ball early and had Ruud under pressure as he created break opportunities in each of the Norwegian’s four service games in the opening set, converting on three occasions.
Ruud responded by raising his level in the second set, and the pair settled into a tense servers’ contest – through the first six games, Ruud and Alcaraz only lost two points combined on serve. But once again, the teenager struck first with a fearless spate of winners to grab the lead at 4-3, and kept his nose in front to seal a spot into the final four.
With his victory, Alcaraz set a dream semi-final line-up for Spanish tennis fans in Marbella. All four semi-finalists at the ATP 250 event hail from Spain, with Alcaraz set to face countryman Jaume Munar for a shot at the championship match.
Munar needed nearly three hours (2h, 55m) to edge past Belarusian Ilya Ivashka 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4 earlier in the day on Estadio Manolo Santana. Munar saved six of the nine break points he faced, and fired seven aces en route to victory.
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Top seed Pablo Carreno Busta had a much more straightforward path to the last four after cruising to a 6-4, 6-0 win against seventh seed Soonwoo Kwon. He set up a semi-final meeting with familiar foe Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who needed two hours and 47 minutes to defeat Norbert Gombos 6-7(4), 7-5, 6-4.
Carreno-Busta will bring a 2-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head lead into their encounter, where he will try to make it three clay-court victories in a row over Ramos-Vinolas.
Did You Know?
Four players from the same country are in the semi-finals of an ATP Tour event for the first time in 17 years (2004 Valencia). Now and then, four Spaniards accomplished the feat at a clay court event in Spain held in the month of April.