Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic are clearly ahead of the rest of the men's singles field, but Marion Bartoli believes both can be caught.

Alcaraz denied Djokovic a fifth straight Wimbledon title last weekend with a stunning five-set victory at SW19, to secure the 20-year-old Spaniard a second grand slam title.

As a pair, Alcaraz and Djokovic have now won the last five grand slams stretching back to last year's Wimbledon, and Bartoli feels they are far ahead of the chasing pack.

The former Wimbledon champion however suggests that gap could motivate others to work on their own game in order to catch up.

"Very much, when you look at the first three grand slams [of 2023], it's clear that there is Novak, Carlos and the rest and there is quite a gap between those two and the rest," she told Stats Perform.

"That's quite obvious with the results. That said, I think that's going to push them to sort of catch back just like Novak did with Roger [Federer] and Rafa [Nadal].

"With [them] having more Grand Slams than him and wanting to be part of the conversation, that just pushed him to elevate his level.

"I think it's going to be the case on the ATP. I don't think the guys are going to look at Carlos and Novak saying 'Oh my god, they're just untouchable, and we're going to lose to them'.

"I think they're going to really try hard. Especially I can see [Holger] Rune, I can see [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, I can see [Daniil] Medvedev, all those and [Jannik] Sinner, being very eager and very hungry to just go and chase.

"I'm sure they can actually push them to work harder on their game to come up with something even better. So I don't see it as a runaway completely and there is no opposition.

"I think maybe it's going to take a little bit of time before they reach that level, but I just don't think it's going to be that easy in a way for Novak and Carlos to just win everything without having a say from the other players."

Bartoli, who won at SW19 in 2013 before retiring in 2018, believes Alcaraz has taken the best qualities of the 'Big Three' of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer and feels he is one of those spearheading a new era in tennis.

"In the eras before, when you look at Pete Sampras, and all those players, it was one way to play and then if you would take that play away it was a lot more difficult for them," she explained. 

"If you take Alcaraz for me, what is very interesting is he has almost the best of Novak, Roger and Rafa combined and that is new. I think it's very much sort of total tennis, when you feel there is just not one department that maybe is lacking a little bit.

"There is a lot of players from this or sort of the past generation that are not that complete, who are really going to suffer against those new kids like Alcaraz, Rune and Sinner who are coming in and just having nothing you feel that they could really do better.

"In that sense, I think that's going to be the new sort of tennis we will see for the next 10 to 20 years."

Novak Djokovic is capable of reaching 30 grand slam titles amid his "scary" run of major success, according to Mark Philippoussis.

The Serbian is a record 23-time grand slam champion, having already won the Australian Open and French Open this year.

And Djokovic will open his Wimbledon title defence on Centre Court against Argentine Pedro Cachin on Monday as he continues his pursuit of a calendar Grand Slam.

Djokovic is looking to match Roger Federer's records of eight Wimbledon titles overall and five consecutive wins at the tournament.

His seventh title at All England Club and his fourth straight success arrived last year with a four-set win over Nick Kyrgios in the final.

Philippoussis, who lost a Wimbledon final to Federer 20 years ago, sees no signs of Djokovic slowing down.

"What is he on, 23? I mean, if he stays healthy, could he break 30? Let's see if he plays for another few years, and he gets two a year, I mean, he's getting close to that, which is scary to think," Philippoussis said to Stats Perform.

"It's incredible and not only that, he's there two hours before he practices, he warms up properly, does all the right things, he's got his team around him. 

"And [after] he finishes practising, he warms down, he's there two to three hours even after he finishes practising, again with his team, which is a strong unit. 

"He does all the right things and still doesn't take the foot off the pedal.

"He's still looking to improve in any way he can, looking for the one per cent here, one per cent there, whether it's on or off the court, or his eating, or his fitness, it really is incredible."

Philippoussis believes Djokovic, who is 36, will break every significant tennis record before his career comes to an end.

Carlos Alcaraz has emerged as a huge threat to his dominance and is looking to end his Wimbledon winning streak, but the Australian still finds it difficult to bet against Djokovic.

"Djokovic is only slightly in front of Alcaraz, but it is impossible to look past him after what he's done at the Australian Open and the French Open," Philippoussis added.

"To beat Djokovic physically and mentally in five sets, you're going to have to be on in every department and that's if you find an opening from him, which is very, very difficult to find.

"What he's continuing to do in the game and the sport is incredible.

"I don't follow all the numbers, but if he's not past everything already, by the time he's done, I think he would be leading in pretty much all of the them. 

"Maybe Jimmy Connors is still ahead as far as [ATP] tournaments won, but I believe that by the time he's done, I think he will be leading all those departments."

French Open champion Iga Swiatek is the favourite in the women’s singles, although she has never previously made it past the fourth round at Wimbledon.

Philippoussis thinks the women’s draw is far more open than on the men’s side. 

He said: "Swiatek is going to be a slight favourite but, again, grass is a different thing, it's completely different to other surfaces.

"Even though it has slowed over the years, it's still grass and you need to make those adjustments out on there. 

"You've got Rybakina, who hasn't had the best preparation, but she's definitely, as Wimbledon champion, going to have to be one of the favourites, and Sabalenka is definitely one of the favourites as well.

"But, in my opinion, I think the women’s is a little more open in the field, so I think a few girls have some opportunities."

Leading tennis players should speak out against "appalling" human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia as the Public Investment Fund (PIF) targets a partnership with the ATP Tour.

That is the view of Amnesty International's regional campaigner Reina Wehbi, who sees the prospective link as a way of distracting from the country's "crackdown" on basic rights. 

Earlier this week, ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi told The Financial Times that talks had been held over a partnership between the PIF and the men's tour. 

Saudi Arabia's numerous sports investments – including the PIF's majority ownership of Newcastle United and the controversial LIV Golf circuit – have been denounced by critics as efforts to improve the country's reputation through 'sportswashing'. 

Speaking exclusively to Stats Perform, Wehbi said tennis stars should not shy away from criticism of Saudi Arabia's record on human rights.

"Saudi Arabia is promoting its colossal investment in sporting events and entertainment as progress and reform. This is a far cry from its appalling human rights record," Wehbi said.

"Saudi Arabia's interest in the ATP fits into a wider pattern of sportswashing that the country has been using to divert attention from its escalated human rights violations.

"Authorities continue their crackdown on the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly. Almost every single human rights defender has been unlawfully detained in Saudi Arabia. 

"Last year, Amnesty recorded the highest number of executions in 30 years in Saudi Arabia. Human rights should be a primary consideration when choosing where to host international sporting events and sporting bodies have the responsibility to undertake due diligence to identify and mitigate human rights violations directly linked to their events.

"Tennis players and all other celebrities should make sure to use their celebrity status and their popular platforms to speak up against abuses and be the voice of those put behind bars for exercising their rights.

"They should make sure not to offer Saudi Arabia uncritical praise and not to help it avoid scrutiny for its continued human rights violations behind the scenes. 

"All players should advocate for the respect and protection of human rights wherever they are."

Gilles Simon believes Andy Murray's inferior trophy haul means he cannot be grouped with tennis' 'Big Three' of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Murray has enjoyed a long and stellar career, reaching 11 major finals and claiming three grand slam titles, as well as spending 41 weeks ranked as the world number one.

But with Djokovic, Nadal and Federer boasting 23, 22 and 20 grand slam successes respectively, Simon feels Murray is not quite on their level.

"He's not part of the Big Three," Simon told Stats Perform at the Roland-Garros eSeries by BNP Paribas. 

"You don't have to compare him with the Big Three, because he played at the very same time and we have the result.

"Andy was a fantastic player, just under these three guys in terms of level. In the end, the gap is huge in terms of titles: 23, 22 and 20, compared to three, so he's not part of the Big Four.

"He played at the same time as everyone and he has three and they have 20 or more. That's how I see it."

Simon – who won three of his 19 meetings with Murray before retiring in 2022 – feels the Scot was unfortunate to have competed with the 'Big Three' and would have been remembered as one of the game's greats in another era.

"He could have won 17 slams without the Big Three," Simon explained. "What is hard for Andy is to compare him to other players from other generations, when other players maybe have more slams than he has.

"If he had played at that time, he could maybe have had 15 and been one of the greatest. You cannot compare him with the Big Three, we saw it already, we saw the results.

"Where I feel sad for Andy is that if you play in a different era, you have 10 [grand slam titles] and then if we take the all-time rankings, we go to [Pete] Sampras with 14 and you say maybe he's here.

"This is where I feel it's a bit of an injustice for him compared to his level, because he would be closer to something like this than to someone who has three slams. He would be much higher in the all-time rankings."

Andy Murray knows what he needs to do at Queen’s this week in order to achieve a seeded ranking for Wimbledon.

Murray returns to his favourite stomping ground, where he is a five-time champion, on the back of successive titles on the ATP Challenger Tour.

The 36-year-old’s success in Nottingham took him up to 38 in the world – his highest ranking since his hip operation – and a run to the last four at Queen’s would be enough to take him into the top 32 and guarantee a seeding at SW19.

It will not be easy for Murray, though, as the class in opposition will be a step up from the second tier, beginning with his first-round match with world number 18 Alex de Minaur on Tuesday.

“When I made the decision to come and play Nottingham rather than the 250s (ATP Tour tournaments), I was at least going to have to win here and maybe make the semis at Queen’s as well because I did well last year and I have given myself a chance,” said Murray, who is defending ranking points from his run to the final at Stuttgart this time last year.

“I pretty much know what I have to do, and if I make the semis at Queen’s I will definitely make seeding and maybe the quarters may be enough.”

Murray’s double success at Surbiton and Nottingham has seen him play 10 matches in 14 days, a big physical test for him considering he is playing with a metal hip.

The two-time Wimbledon champion will have a light day on Monday ahead of Tuesday’s match-up with Australian De Minaur, whose girlfriend Katie Boulter also won in Nottingham on Sunday.

“It has been tough, I found Sunday’s match hard, two quite late finishes and then a big change by playing at 11am, a completely different preparation,” Murray added.

“But I am going completely match tight, I make sure I do all the right recovery stuff. I will treat Monday as a day off and get ready for Tuesday.

“He (De Minaur) loves playing on the grass, a lot of the Aussies do. It is not going to be easy, he makes you work very hard and is quick around the court. He is a very good returner.”

Novak Djokovic might have won the French Open, but Gilles Simon does not foresee too many more grand slam victories for the world number one.

Djokovic overcame Casper Ruud 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 7-5 at Roland Garros on Sunday to claim his 23rd major title, taking him clear of Rafael Nadal (22).

The Serbian turned 36 last month, however, and speaking before the tournament, former world number six Simon suggested Djokovic must enjoy the major triumphs while they are here.

Simon pointed to the now-retired Roger Federer and Nadal, who will retire next year, as prime examples of top players being unable to retain their level beyond the age of 37.

"There's a lot less serenity and so he's into his own thing," said Simon, speaking to Stats Perform at the Roland-Garros eSeries by BNP Paribas.

"[Djokovic winning the French Open] will stop the GOAT, not the GOAT debate. In fact, it won't stop it, but at least we'll stop talking about this famous number of grand slam records and we'll understand that, in the end, there are those for whom the best player is the best on the court, but he's already the one who has the best stats.

"Of course he doesn't have the easy road in the sense that he has not ten years in front of him. In other words, he's [winning] two more grand slams, maximum. It's not easy, so he better win slams now.

"He does not have time. He's 36, he's struggling and it's easy to see why. Roger, 37 years old, nothing after that. Rafa, 36 last year [37 now], and nothing after that. Novak will be no exception to the rule.

"Rafa, the last grand slam he won (2022 French Open), it was very hard physically. Novak, he's won several grand slams with the adductor tear, elbow, abs, whatever. It's been a long time since they won a slam by rolling over everyone, as they did before."

A visibly frustrated Andy Murray eventually saw off qualifier Bu Yunchaokete to reach the third round of the Surbiton Trophy as he continues his preparations ahead of Wimbledon.

The 36-year old skipped the French Open to focus on his grass-court season and give himself the best preparation for Wimbledon next month.

Murray, a two-time Wimbledon champion, is ranked 43rd and needs to climb around 10 positions to be seeded in SW19.

He increased those chances with a hard-fought 7-6 (1) 6-4 win over Yunchaokete, who is 130 places below Murray in the rankings.


Internet issues on the umpire’s scoring system led to a slight delay in starting the match and it took Murray a while to get going once things got under way.

As with his first round win over Chung Hyeon on Monday, Murray needed little time to hit his stride as he looked to back up his claims that he remains among the top 10 players on his favourite surface.

Chinese qualifier Yunchaokete had beaten Briton Harry Wendelken in the opening round but the step up in class left him at the mercy of Murray.

Two aces saw Murray take the third game and he broke serve in the sixth only to have Yunchaokete break back immediately, with the Briton throwing his racket to the ground in frustration.

Yunchaokete was starting to grow in confidence as he held to love to leave Murray grumbling away at the other end.

Two set points for Murray were not taken and he greeted another error with a cry of “I don’t know what is going on with my game” as the first set headed into a tie-break.

The self-administered pep-talk seemed to work as Murray dominated, this time letting out a roar of joy as he took the first set.

The outbursts of anger continued in the second set with both players still unable to put clear distance between the scores.

Murray would eventually maintain a high enough level to see off the spirited Yuchanokete and advance into the next stage as he aims to go one better than his semi-final place at Surbiton 12 months ago.

Novak Djokovic beat Andy Murray to win the French Open for the first time at Roland Garros on this day in 2016, handing Murray his eighth Grand Slam final loss.

The 3-6 6-1 6-2 6-4 victory meant Djokovic became the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to be the holder of all four titles at the same time.

It was the Serb’s 12th Grand Slam victory and moved him to within five titles of Roger Federer’s record of 17.

For Murray it was the fifth time in those eight losses that he had lost out to Djokovic, with the pair first having met when Murray was just 11.

“It’s a very special moment,” said Djokovic. “Perhaps the biggest of my career.”

He had lost out in the final of the 2015 edition to Stan Wawrinka, despite having overcome Rafael Nadal in the last four.

“To Novak, this is his day,” said Murray, who was the first British man in 79 years to reach the final in Paris before finally going down in the fourth set.

“What he’s achieved the last 12 months is phenomenal, winning all four of the Grand Slams in one year is an amazing achievement and this is something that is so rare in tennis.

“It’s going to take a long time for it to happen again.

“Everyone here is extremely lucky to see it. Me personally, being on the opposite side, it sucks to lose the match but I’m proud to be part of today.”

Rafael Nadal will be contemplating the best way to call time on his stellar career after injury denied him the chance to defend his French Open title, believes Tommy Haas.

Nadal has not played since suffering a second-round exit at the Australian Open in January, having struggled with a hip injury during his straight-sets defeat to Mackenzie McDonald.

The 22-time grand slam champion last week admitted defeat in his bid to appear at Roland Garros, where he has triumphed 14 times – a record for any player at a single grand slam.

When announcing his withdrawal, Nadal said 2024 would "probably" be his final year on the ATP tour and outlined his intention of making farewell appearances at "important tournaments".

Nadal's long-time rival Roger Federer retired surrounded by several of his fellow greats at last year's Laver Cup, and Haas believes the Spaniard will be eyeing a similar send-off. 

"At some point, time catches up with all of us and that's the reality," Haas, a four-time grand slam semi-finalist, told Stats Perform.

"I think at this stage, I'm sure he's been contemplating the idea: 'When would I do it? How would I do it? How would it come together organically?' 

"We saw Roger Federer doing it last year and the way he was able to retire in London at the Laver Cup with all of his rivals and friends on the court. I happened to be there live, it was an amazing way to finish such an incredible career. 

"Look at Pete Sampras. He won his first slam at the US Open and he won his last match at the US Open, winning the slam there on home turf – there couldn't have been a better fairy tale. 

"I think you look at that and at the same time, you have to stay focused on what's happening today and you can't look too far ahead."


Though Nadal's total of 22 grand slam singles titles is a joint record in the men's game (alongside Novak Djokovic), the Spaniard's injury record has denied him several chances to add to that tally.

Nadal played all four grand slams for the first time since 2019 last year but was forced to withdraw from the Wimbledon semi-finals, and Haas says the Spaniard's fitness will dictate his future.   

"It always depends, obviously, on the injuries. 'How bad is it and can I recover from it?' I'm sure Rafa is constantly thinking about those situations," Haas added.

"He's been saying he still wants to play for another year or two, which would obviously be amazing for the sport. 

"On clay, I think he has a better chance of keeping the body in a better shape than on gruelling hardcourts. He obviously plays long matches, which is tough on the body."

The main draw of the French Open begins on Sunday, with Nadal's compatriot Carlos Alcaraz the top male seed as he bids for a second major title.

Boris Becker fears Alexander Zverev's injury problems may impact his fellow German's chances of winning a first grand slam at the upcoming French Open.

Zverev reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros last year, but his chances of winning a maiden grand slam title were ended when an ankle injury forced him to retire from his last-four clash with eventual champion Rafael Nadal.

Zverev subsequently required surgery to repair damaged ligaments before a bone edema suffered in September further delayed his return to the court.

The German finally made his competitive comeback in December but struggled at the Australian Open the following month, crashing out in the second round to unheralded American Michael Mmoh.

With the 26-year-old heading to Roland Garros later this month looking to reach the semi-finals for the third straight year, Becker has serious doubts over his compatriot's chances of claiming victory.

Asked whether he felt Zverev could come out on top, Becker told Stats Perform: "I hope so. I hope so.

"At the moment he is in a bit of a crisis because he had a very severe injury last year in the semi-final against Nadal. 

"He literally broke his ankle. He was out for seven months and just came back this year. So he's still struggling.

"I think for the title, I don't think anybody German [will win] this year. I think it'll be a Spaniard, it'll be a Serbian, it'll be an Italian, somebody like that."

The French Open was the only grand slam singles title that evaded Becker during his hugely successful career, with the tennis great winning three Wimbledon titles, two Australian Open crowns and the 1989 US Open.

The former world number one believes the beauty of tennis lies in individuals coping with pressure, explaining there is no opportunity to exploit the talents of others to reach the pinnacle of the sport.

"Tennis is a very important sport," Becker said. "It's an individual sport. You can actually see it with one player, whether he's winning or losing.

"In a team, sometimes people can hide behind the likes of [Lionel] Messi or [Kylian] Mbappe. You're still a World Cup winner, even though you know it was either Mbappe or Messi, right?

"In tennis, it's not possible. You have to be the better player and that is why tennis is such a powerful sport, because you see who is better with your own eyes."

Andy Murray has withdrawn from this year’s French Open, the PA news agency understands.

The second grand slam of the year begins next week, but after struggling to find his best form on clay in recent weeks, the Scot will prioritise a busy grass-court schedule in the build-up to Wimbledon.

Murray was beaten in the first round of the Italian Open and earlier this week made another early exit on clay after losing to Stan Wawrinka at an ATP Challenger event in Bordeaux.

The 36-year-old is understood to still be considering which tournaments to target and they may include Surbiton from June 4-11 and then Queen’s from June 19-25. Wimbledon is scheduled to start on July 3.

Murray had struggled for his best form on clay after proving he was physically in condition to take on the world’s best players with some marathon matches at the Australian Open at the start of the year.

The former world number one, bidding to revive his career after major hip surgery in 2018, came through two five-set victories over Matteo Berrettini and Thanasi Kokkinakis before losing to Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round.

Murray beat Tommy Paul in the final of the ATP Challenger event in Aix-en-Provence at the start of this month – his first title in nearly four years – after first-round exits in Monte Carlo and Madrid.

But that was followed by his disappointments in the Italian Open in Rome and another Challenger event in Bordeaux.

Rafael Nadal missing the French Open this year would be a huge disappointment, though Emmanuel Cruze would prefer to look on the bright side.

Cruze is the head of the Villa Primrose Club, the host of the Bordeaux Challenger event, which Nadal declined an invitation to as he continues his recovery from injury.

The 36-year-old has not played since going out in the second round of the Australian Open in January.

Nadal has since dropped to 14th in the ATP rankings, and it is not yet clear if he will be fit to feature at Roland Garros, where he won a record-extending 14th French Open title last year.

However, Cruze told Stats Perform that while it would be sad to see Nadal miss the season's second major, it might signal a changing of the guard in Paris.

"We would all be very disappointed for the tournament, but maybe it will be a new era that will open for all the players, and especially you are talking about Spanish players," said Cruze.

"We need to keep in mind that [Carlos] Alcaraz is really performing extremely well, and is still very young also.

"Is he the future Nadal? We don't know, but definitely if Nadal is not playing at the French Open, it will be much more open for all other players.

"[It will be exciting] for the tournament itself, because if he's there and in good shape, people will say 'Okay, Nadal will win another title, and it's going to be boring'.

"We are not sure that he will be able to play the French Open and then for the next generation it's really something that will be very important for them, to be able to play the French without the pressure of Nadal."

Cruze is unsure if Nadal would be among the favourites even if he mustered a comeback in time for the tournament, which begins on May 29.

"He is over 30 and it's always more and more difficult to come back after a major injury, we have seen with [Roger] Federer, he wants to try to come back and win Wimbledon for the last time and finally was unable to do so because when you are out for six months and you are over 30, I think it's really difficult," he said.

"But [Nadal] is such a character and such a fantastic player [that] you never know. You never know. I'm not a doctor, I'm in the wine business so nothing to do with that, even if wine sometimes helps!"

As for Nadal's legacy in France, Cruze believes there should be a permanent tribute to the 22-time grand slam champion at Roland Garros.

"I think as soon as Nadal retires, he almost deserves a statue, because he is a legend," Cruze added.

"How could you imagine winning 14 times at the French Open, which probably is one of the most difficult [surfaces] because you're playing on clay courts, you spend sometimes three or four hours on the court, which is not the same on grass or on hard courts, so I think for French tennis lovers, he will be a legend for years.

"He's a legend, but normally with a legend, it is because you stopped your career, but he is already a legend, even if he is still playing."

Looking to the future, Cruze sees Nadal's compatriot Alcaraz as a possible heir apparent.

"I've never seen him physically, only on TV and that's it, but he's a very young guy and is performing extremely well," Cruze said of the world number two.

"I don't know about on grass, but for hard courts, he seems to be fine, so if he's fine with a hard court, he would normally be a good player on grass, so yeah he could be the next legend, why not? But so far the real [legend] is still Rafael Nadal, up until he retires."

Boris Becker believes Novak Djokovic can secure a record-breaking triumph at the French Open, where the tennis great hopes Rafael Nadal will return to action.

Djokovic moved level with Nadal for the most grand slam singles titles among male players after clinching his 22nd major with January's success at the Australian Open.

The Serbian will have his sights on a landmark 23rd major triumph at Roland Garros, where the tournament starts on May 28, and Becker sees no reason for Djokovic not to break the record in Paris.

Former world number one Becker, a six-time major winner, told Stats Perform: "Do I believe Novak can win 23? Absolutely, I can.

"But it's not easy. Competition doesn't sleep."


Djokovic has made light work of said competition in recent years, though a return for 14-time French Open winner Nadal would throw the upcoming major wide open.

However, the Spaniard has not featured since sustaining a hip injury at the Australian Open in January, most recently pulling out of the Italian Open as he had not fully recovered.

"The question is Nadal, can he come back? Can he play in the French Open? I personally hope so," Becker added.

"I think tennis needs Nadal. We need him. And so hopefully he comes back and plays as a 14-time winner of Roland Garros.

"But Novak is healthy, he's fit. He wants to play so he's one of the favourites."

Andy Murray claimed his first title since October 2019 with victory at the ATP Challenger event in Aix-en-Provence.

The Scot, playing with a metal hip, has not been in the winners’ circle since triumphing in Antwerp three and a half years ago and, although this is a second-tier tournament, he will take great pride in this confidence-boosting success ahead of the French Open.

Having breezed past lowly ranked French players on his run to the final, the standard was lifted and he came good, beating world number 17 Tommy Paul 2-6 6-1 6-2 to lift the title.

In doing so he ensures his return to the top 50 of the rankings and a first Challenger Tour level win for 18 years.

It looked like it might slip away after a poor start that saw him lose the first four games of the match to hand Paul, an Australian Open semi-finalist earlier this year, the advantage.

The 25-year-old American coasted to the first set, but that was as good as it got as Murray came to the fore.

He turned the tables by winning the first five games of the second set, including two breaks of serve, and soon levelled up.

Murray, eight days before his 36th birthday, broke in the opening game of the decider and did not look back as a second break consolidated his lead, allowing him to seal a memorable title.

The Scot only took a late wild card into the tournament following an early exit from the ATP Tour event in Madrid and will now decide whether to go Rome or rest and prepare for the French Open, which begins on May 22.

Carlos Alcaraz remains on course to defend his Madrid Open title after he powered past a determined Karen Khachanov to reach the last four.

The top seed eventually prevailed 6-4 7-5 but only after he staged an impressive fight back in the second set to book a third ATP Masters 1000 semi-final of the season.

Alcaraz’s clay-court winning streak now stands at nine and he has tasted victory in 19 of his past 20 matches, claiming title triumphs in Indian Wells and Barcelona along the way.

A hard-fought opener went the way of the Spaniard, who celebrates his 20th birthday on Friday, but the second set did not initially go to plan.

Khachanov built up a 5-2 lead and looked set to force a decider only for Alcaraz to find his A-game with a string of winners and drop shots to eventually earn victory in one hour and 51 minutes.

“It was pretty tough. The first set as well, it was close,” said Alcaraz.

“I was in trouble in the second set, a break down and [he had] two break points to have the second break. So, it was really tough for me to come back and he had his chances to win the second set.

“Luckily I knew I was going to have my chances. I just tried to take my opportunities and I’m really happy to get through.”

Borna Coric will face Alcaraz for a place in the Madrid Open final on Friday in what will be their first ever meeting.

The Croatian got the better of lucky loser Daniel Altmaier 6-3 6-3 with victory achieved in one hour and 14 minutes for the 17th seed.

“I always love to play here in Madrid,” Coric said on-court.

“I have very, very nice memories from here and I knew I could play well.

“I came here very early to prepare myself for the tournament, as it’s, I would say, a little bit different to the next tournaments. I’m just very happy to be in the semi-finals.”


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Meanwhile, Andy Murray snapped his losing streak with victory over Gael Monfils in an ATP Challenger event in Aix-en-Provence.


After first-round exits at the Miami Open, Monte-Carlo Masters and Madrid Open, Murray was able to return to winning ways with a 6-3 6-3 win over wild-card Monfils.

Murray will face another Frenchmen in Laurent Lokoli in the last-16 and aim to build momentum before this month’s French Open at Roland Garros.

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