Carlos Alcaraz is a step away from defending his Madrid Masters title after beating Borna Coric to move through to the final. He will take on Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff, a lucky loser, who beat Aslan Karatsev in the semi-final.
In football news, Lionel Messi has apologised to his club Paris Saint-Germain for taking an unauthorised trip to Saudi Arabia. Argentina’s World Cup winning captain missed training because of the trip, and has been suspended by the club.
Here’s a look at the key stories from international sporting events through the day for 6 May, 2023:
Alcaraz to play Struff in final
Defending champion Carlos Alcaraz celebrated his 20th birthday on Friday by reaching the Madrid Open final, likening himself to “a bull” in his straight sets win over Borna Coric.
The world number two was at his best to defeat the Croatian 6-4, 6-3.
He will face Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff, the world number 65, who had originally been knocked out in qualifying before winning a reprieve, in Sunday’s final.
Alcaraz said he called upon some of the inner motivation which helped him triumph at the US Open in New York last year when he captured his maiden Grand Slam crown.
“There was a moment when I repeated what I repeated at the US Open, that I’m a bull, and that I could do it, and it helped me,” he explained.
Struff, 33, made only his second career final by defeating Russia’s Aslan Karatsev who had beaten him in qualifying last weekend.
However, having been allocated a place in the main draw after injury pull-outs, Struff avenged that loss in Friday’s semi-final.
He came from a set down to see off 121st-ranked Karatsev 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 and become the first ‘lucky loser’ to go all the way to a Masters final.
Struff, whose only other final appearance resulted in a runner-up finish in Munich in 2021, claimed victory on a fifth match point.
He fired 37 winners including 15 aces in his two-hour 19-minute win.
“It’s amazing,” Struff said. “I played one final before in Munich but there was no crowd because of Covid.”
Struff and Alcaraz have met twice before – the German winning in straight sets at the French Open in 2021 before the flamboyant Spaniard claimed a five-setter at Wimbledon last year.
Messi apologises to PSG
Lionel Messi on Friday apologised for going on an unauthorised trip to Saudi Arabia that led to Argentina’s World Cup-winning captain being suspended by his club Paris Saint-Germain.
“I want to apologise obviously to my teammates and to the club,” Messi said in a video posted on Instagram to his 458 million followers.
He was suspended by the Qatar-owned club after failing to turn up for training on Monday, a day after their 3-1 home defeat by Lorient in Ligue 1.
Instead, the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner travelled to Saudi Arabia without PSG’s permission to fulfil commitments as part of a contract with the country’s tourist office.
“I honestly thought we were going to have the day off after the match as had happened in the previous weeks,” he said.
“I had organised this trip to Saudi Arabia having cancelled it previously. This time I couldn’t cancel it. I am sorry for what I did and I wait to see what the club decides to do.”
The affair has made it increasingly unlikely that Messi will remain at PSG beyond this season, when his two-year contract with the club expires.
PSG, who are five points clear at the top of Ligue 1, will have just four more matches remaining this season following their game against Troyes.
“We will see when Leo comes back. We will see what happens. Obviously there will be discussions with the club as a whole but also with Leo because this concerns him first and foremost,” PSG coach Christophe Galtier said on Friday when asked if Messi would play for the team again.
Galtier also said that the decision to suspend the 35-year-old Messi was not his to take in the first place.
“It wasn’t my decision to take. I was informed of the decision and I defer to it,” he insisted.
With text inputs from AFP
Updated through the day