It was a completely different story for Alcaraz and Struff ahead of the final. While the 20-year-old won every set since losing the first set in his first match at the ATP 1000 event in Madrid, the German lucky loser had to fight in three sets in his last five matches.
The Spaniard even celebrated his birthday during the event, while his opponent celebrated becoming the first-ever lucky loser to reach the ATP Masters 1000 final. But he wanted to take that one more step further, and he could do it on Sunday evening at La Caja Magica.
While it was one of many for the Spanish youngster, it was the first ATP Masters 1000 final for Struff and only his second ATP final ever. And it was obvious in the opening game as he hit two double faults and gave his opponent a one-break lead already after the first break.
But the German soon shook off the pressure and found his range in the second game, even having one chance to break Alcaraz. And even though he didn't manage to do it in that game, Struff won 12 of the following 14 points, getting himself back into the match and leading for the first time, 3-2.
But as the stakes increased, the top seed also increased the intensity, bringing the best out of him. Alcaraz was able to break again in the seventh game, despite trailing 40-15, and he kept his advantage until the tenth game when he was serving for the set.
Yet, Struff wasn't ready to give up. He flew into the tenth game, winning the first three points and having three break points. But the home crowd hero won five consecutive points and the Manolo Santana Stadium erupted as Alcaraz won the first set 6-4.
At the start of the second set, the German came out firing and this time, he was the one leading by a break as he broke Alcaraz's serve and led 3-0 after only 12 minutes. After four quick games, it all came down the the longest game of the match, which was the fifth game of the second set.
Struff was serving to keep his one-break advantage and lead 4-1, but the Spaniard had 5 break points. Regardless, the German managed to win the game which lasted 15 minutes. After that, the following two service games were easy for him and he managed to take the match to a decider.
With Struff's 100% win rate in three-set matches at the 2023 Madrid Open, Alcaraz had to be really careful and even though he managed to do that in his first service, he faced a break point in the third game.
However, the Spaniard saved that and showed a returning masterclass in the next game to break his opponent's serve and as the crowd shouted his name, Alcaraz held to confirm the break and led 4-1 in the third set.
The top seed then didn't let the win slip out of his hands and after more than two hours, he won the match 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to win the 2023 Madrid Open. Once again, a sensational performance from the Spaniard to lift the new trophy Agón.
He will come within striking distance of his closest competitor in the ATP Rankings, Novak Djokovic as on Monday, Alcaraz will be only 5 points behind the Serb. On the other hand, Struff will move to his new career-high 28th place.