Alcaraz loses to Rublev in Madrid Open quarterfinals. Sinner withdraws with hip injury

MADRID (AP) — Carlos Alcaraz's bid to win a third straight Madrid Open title ended with a three-set loss to Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

The second-seeded Spaniard got off to a good start but then was outplayed by the seventh-seeded Rublev, losing 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 at the Caja Magica center court.

Alcaraz, who had already struggled in a three-set win over Jan-Lennard Struff on Tuesday, looked out of sorts and was mistake-prone toward the end.

It was his first tournament after missing Monte Carlo and Barcelona because of a right forearm injury. The 20-year-old Alcaraz had arrived in Madrid saying he would be happy to play three or four matches in the Spanish capital.

Already in a hole in the third set, Alcaraz pressed the forearm during a stopover. He was wearing a long sleeve over the injured arm.

“Today probably I felt more in the forearm than yesterday’s match. I mean, playing three hours yesterday, I knew that I’m going to feel something or I’m going to think about it even more,” the third-ranked Alcaraz said. “Playing someone like Rublev that I couldn’t push him to the limit in every point is tough."

Alcaraz plans to play in Rome to continue his preparation for the French Open later this month.

“I’m going to go to Rome. I’m going to work to be close to 100% or in a good way to play Rome, but I’m going to decide these days. But I think I’ll be OK," he said. “I have to work hard if I want to go to Rome with good feelings, without pain, without thinking about my forearm, but it’s going to be a slow process, I guess. I have to be patient in that way.”

Alcaraz was trying to become the first player to win the clay-court tournament three straight times. He hadn’t lost on Spanish soil since 2021.

Rublev, seeking his second ATP 1000 title after winning Monte Carlo last year, will play Taylor Fritz in the semifinals.

The world No. 8 was solid from the start and overpowered Alcaraz with 30 winners.

“The serve saved me a lot of times today,” Rublev said. “The key was I was completely calm the whole match. I did not say one word, even if I was losing. That was the key and I was able to serve even better near the end. In the beginning, I was not serving that well but little by little, after set one, I served better and better and finished really well.”

The 12th-seeded Fritz defeated 22nd-ranked Francisco Cerundolo 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. It was the 250th tour-level win for Fritz, who is the third American man to reach the Madrid semifinals and first since Robby Ginepri in 2005. Andre Agassi won the Madrid title in 2002.

Cerundolo, the Argentine who upset world No. 5 Alexander Zverev in the fourth round, was trying to reach his second ATP 1000 semifinal.

Top-seeded Jannik Sinner withdrew because of a hip injury, saying he didn't want to risk making it worse. Sinner defeated Karen Khachanov on Tuesday and was scheduled to face Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

SABALENKA ADVANCES

Defending champion Aryna Sabalenka defeated 17-year-old Mirra Andreeva for the second straight year in Madrid to reach the women's semifinals.

The second-seeded Sabalenka didn't face a break point on her way to a 6-1, 6-4 win in Wednesday's quarterfinals. She had beaten the teenage sensation in straight sets in the fourth round last year.

The two-time Australian Open champion has won 10 straight matches in Madrid and is trying to match Petra Kvitova's three titles in the Spanish capital.

Sabalenka will next play fourth-seeded Elena Rybakina, who saved two match points en route to a 4-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5 win over Yulia Putintseva.

The 2022 Wimbledon champion rallied while trailing 5-2 in the third set. Rybakina also trailed by an early break in the second set.

Rybakina has won eight matches in a row and has a tour-leading 30-4 record this season. She has 16 straight clay wins and is trying to reach her sixth final of the year.

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