Alcaraz set for fourth 2023 title after Khachanov win
Defending champion Carlos Alcaraz has overcame a tough test from Karen Khachanov on his way to the semi-finals of the Madrid Open, rallying late for a hard-fought 6-4 7-5 win.
Alcaraz was down 4-1 and 5-2 in the second set on Wednesday before winning the final five games to secure his fourth straight-set victory in the Spanish capital and move another step towards his fourth title of the season.
The top seed improved to 27-2 this year, having dropped only one set in his last 19 victories. It will be his third Masters 1000 semi-final of the season.
"I knew I had to keep fighting no matter what," Alcaraz said.
"I had to stay strong because I knew that I would have my opportunities, and I'm glad I took advantage of the first one that I had to close out the match."
Alcaraz converted on his first match point after the 10th seed Khachanov had taken control of the second set with an early break.
The Russian had two break opportunities to go up 5-1 before Alcaraz rallied for the victory.
The Spaniard, who finished with 31 winners, had converted on his first break opportunity to go up 4-3 and win the first set.
Alcaraz will next face 17th-seeded Croatian Borna Coric, who enjoyed a 6-3 6-3 win over German lucky loser Daniel Altmaier.
"This victory will give me a lot of confidence," said Alcaraz, who will turn 20 on Friday.
"Karen had been playing at a great level and took me to the limit. The match was decided on small details. He had the chance to win the second set but it came down to details. I'm very happy to have advanced past a player like Karen."
Alcaraz had cruised past last year's runner-up Alexander Zverev in the previous round, while Khachanov -- a semi-finalist at the Australian Open this year and at the US Open last year -- had beaten Andrey Rublev.
Alcaraz is trying to become the first player this season to win two Masters 1000 titles, after having already lifted the trophy in Indian Wells. He successfully defended his title in Barcelona and also won in Buenos Aires.
If Alcaraz wins the title again in Madrid, he will regain the No.1 spot in the world rankings if he plays at least one match in Rome.