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Berrettini Halts Ruud, Books Zverev Clash In Madrid Final

  • Posted: May 08, 2021

Eighth seed Matteo Berrettini is one match away from claiming the Mutua Madrid Open title in his tournament debut after taking down Casper Ruud 6-4, 6-4 on Saturday.

After returning to the Tour with just one match under his belt since March, Berrettini has played himself into form after lifting the trophy at the Serbia Open in Belgrade. In his first appearance at La Caja Magica, the Italian has dropped just one set en route to becoming the first man from his country to reach the championship match.

“It’s a great, unbelievable feeling, especially coming from Monte-Carlo where I wasn’t feeling that good,” Berrettini said. “I won in Belgrade and now I’m in the final, so I’m really looking forward to playing against Sascha. I hope I enjoy it tomorrow the way I enjoyed tonight.”

Berrettini will face fifth seed Alexander Zverev in the final as he seeks his first ATP Masters 1000 title, the biggest trophy of his career. The German owns a 2-1 lead in their ATP Head2Head, although they’ve split their clay court encounters 1-1.

“I saw him, he’s playing really good. He’s solid. He moves well. For his height, he’s really good. He serves well. I mean, he’s in the final. He beat Rafa [Nadal] and Dominic [Thiem], probably the best players on clay,” Berrettini said.

“It’s going to be a challenging match, but I’m in the finals. I guess the best two guys are going to play each other.”

Ruud, No. 22 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, had not dropped serve all week in Madrid and faced only one break point on his way to the final. But Berrettini’s firepower on the return had him under pressure throughout, and he finally surrendered his serve once in each set against the Italian.

“My serve is my weapon, but today I think I returned a lot and I put pressure on him,” Berrettini said. “I was just playing more aggressive. He’s kind of like me, he likes to run around the forehand and play with spin. But I guess today I was playing better than him.

“The other time he beat me, so it’s always a great fight against him. He [reached] three semi-finals in a row [also Monte-Carlo and Munich] so he was feeling confident. I guess that’s why I’m maybe even more happy with my win today.”


The victory levelled Berrettini’s ATP Head2Head against Ruud at 2-2. The Norwegian claimed both of his previous victories on clay, including on the Italian’s home turf at last year’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia where he won 7-6 in the third.

Contesting the last match of the night at Manolo Santana Stadium, Berrettini and Ruud settled into a tense servers’ battle with no break points on offer through the opening eight games. Berrettini stayed patient and took advantage of a shaky Ruud service game at 4-4 to grab the first break of the match, before serving out the set to love.

Berrettini attacked Ruud’s second serves, allowing him to win only 50 per cent (14/28) of those points. The Italian was the main aggressor, firing 24 winners – including 16 off the forehand wing – across an hour and 21 minutes, more than tripling Ruud’s seven. He claimed the decisive break of serve for a 4-3 lead in the second set, and fired a powerful unreturned serve to clinch the victory.

Berrettini became the third Italian ATP Masters 1000 finalist since the series was established in 1990, following the footsteps of 2019 Monte-Carlo champion Fabio Fognini and 2021 Miami runner-up Jannik Sinner.

Did You Know?
Should Matteo Berrettini go on to claim the Mutua Madrid Open title, 2021 will be only the second season to start with three first-time ATP Masters 1000 champions, after Hubert Hurkacz’s victory in Miami and Stefanos Tsitsipas’ in Monte-Carlo. In 1990, Stefan Edberg, Andre Agassi and Andrei Chesnokov won the first three ATP Masters 1000 championships in history.

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Scouting Report: Nadal Aims To Bounce Back In Rome, Thiem Arrives In Form

  • Posted: May 08, 2021

Following Monte-Carlo and Madrid, the Internazionali BNL d’Italia marks the final event of the 2021 clay-court ATP Masters 1000 trilogy. Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal headline the draw as the top two seeds and will both be aiming to add to their impressive trophy hauls at the Foro Italico.

Djokovic and Nadal have dominated the ATP Masters 1000 in recent years, winning 14 of the past 16 editions of the tournament. Only Andy Murray (2016) and Alexander Zverev (2017) have managed to break the pair’s stranglehold and win the tournament since that stretch began in 2005.

Zverev, who will compete in the Mutua Madrid Open final on Sunday, will be one of the biggest challengers to Djokovic and Nadal in the Italian capital. The German will be joined by World No. 3 Daniil Medvedev, 2017 semi-finalist Dominic Thiem and Monte-Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Ahead of the fourth Masters 1000 tournament of the year, looks at 10 things to watch in Rome.

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1) The Defending Champion: After capturing a record-extending ninth Australian Open title in February, Novak Djokovic has compiled a 3-2 record on clay. The World No. 1 fell to Daniel Evans in the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters third round and lost a marathon three-hour, 26-minute Serbia Open semi-final against Aslan Karatsev.

Djokovic will attempt to clinch his first clay-court title of the season in Rome, where he has lifted five of his 15 career titles on the surface. The 33-year-old dropped just one set en route to the title last season, when he beat Diego Schwartzman in the championship match to lift a record-breaking 36th Masters 1000 trophy. Djokovic could face a Monte-Carlo re-match against Evans in his opening match. The Serbian will meet the winner of Evans’ encounter with Taylor Fritz in the second round.

2) Double Digits In Sight: Nadal will be looking to rediscover his best form after a straight-sets loss to Zverev in the Madrid quarter-finals. The Spaniard has compiled a 9-2 record on clay this season, highlighted by his 12th title run at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.

The nine-time Rome champion will be aiming to win 10 or more titles at a single tour-level event for the fourth time in his career. Nadal owns 13 Roland Garros crowns, 12 Barcelona trophies and 11 Monte-Carlo titles. Like Djokovic, Nadal will face a tricky opening match in the Italian capital. The Spaniard will meet #NextGenATP Italian Jannik Sinner or Ugo Humbert in the second round.

3) Different Week, Same Target: As was the case in Madrid, Medvedev enters Rome with a 0-2 tournament record. The Russian was able to record his first win at La Caja Magica this year, and he will hope to do the same in Rome. Medvedev will meet countryman Aslan Karatsev or Miomir Kecmanovic in his first match.


4) Thiem Carries Momentum: After an almost two-month absence, Dominic Thiem clinched three victories to reach his fourth straight semi-final in Madrid. The Austrian will be aiming to build on that strong showing in Rome. The World No. 4, who owns an 8-5 record at the Masters 1000 event, will start his tournament against Guido Pella or Marton Fucsovics.

5) The Home Favourites: With a run to the ATP Cup final and the two youngest players in the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings, Italian tennis is firmly on the rise. The host nation will be well represented in the main draw, with Madrid semi-finalist Matteo Berrettini leading the way. The ninth seed will be joined by an impressive group of home talents, which includes Fabio Fognini and #NextGenATP stars Sinner and Lorenzo Musetti.

6) The Leader Of The Pack: Tsitsipas, the current leader of the FedEx ATP Race To Turin, will look to increase his points total in Rome. The Greek was unable to maintain his perfect record of 2021 quarter-final appearances in Madrid, but he has already proven his talent on clay this year. Tsitsipas owns a 10-2 record on the red dirt in 2021, highlighted by his Monte-Carlo title run and a runner-up finish in Barcelona.

7) A Former Champion: Four years on from his maiden Masters 1000 triumph in Rome, Zverev returns to the eternal city as a leading contender for the trophy. The German will compete in the Madrid final on Sunday, following back-to-back straight-sets wins against Nadal and Thiem. Zverev has reached two finals from four appearances in Rome (1-1) and holds an 11-3 tournament record.

8) Exciting Openers: There are many interesting first-round encounters in Rome. In the bottom half of the draw, last year’s semi-finalist Denis Shapovalov will open his campaign against in-form Norwegian Casper Ruud, Fognini will face former World No. 4 Kei Nishikori and Miami champion Hubert Hurkacz will meet Musetti. In the top half, Belgrade champion Berrettini will meet Munich titlist Nikoloz Basilashvili and Marin Cilic will also face Alexander Bublik.

9) Mektic/Pavic Seek Further Success: Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic will be the team to beat in Rome. The pair has already earned five trophies in 2021 and is one win away from its third straight Masters 1000 title. Mektic and Pavic, who won titles in Miami and Monte-Carlo, enter the Madrid final on Sunday with an unbeaten 12-0 team record at Masters 1000 events. The Croatians are the second seeds in Rome.

10) Cabal/Farah Seek Rome Hat-trick: Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah lifted back-to-back Rome titles in 2018 and 2019, and they will return to Rome as the top seeds in 2021. The Colombians will open their bid for a third Rome crown against Italian wild cards Fognini and Musetti.

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Final Preview: Zverev To Play Berrettini For Madrid Title

  • Posted: May 08, 2021

Alexander Zverev and Matteo Berrettini will face off in the final of the Mutua Madrid Open on Sunday with Zverev seeking his fourth ATP Masters 1000 title and Berretini looking to win his first.

While Berrettini has been in five ATP Tour finals, winning four of them, this will be his biggest final. 

“When you’re about to play, you’re just thinking that you’re playing a final,” Berrettini said. “Obviously, I was in the semis [at the] US Open. Everything is different, but it’s just a great feeling. Especially, after the struggle after my injury, I think I worked really hard. I’m maybe even more happy.”

ATP Masters 1000 Title Leaders (Active Players)

 Player  Titles
 Novak Djokovic  36
 Rafael Nadal 35
Roger Federer 28
Andy Murray 14
Alexander Zverev 3
Daniil Medvedev 3
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 2

Zverev, who won the Madrid title in 2018, has yet to drop a set this week. The 23-year-old last won a clay-court title in Geneva in 2019, and if he wins on Sunday, it will mark his second title of 2021 after taking home the Acapulco title in March.

“He’s playing really good,” Berrettini said of Zverev. “He’s solid; he moves well for his height. He serves well. He beat Rafa and Dominic, probably the best players on clay. It’s going to be a challenging match, but I’m in the finals. I guess the best two guys are going to play each other.”

“He’s been playing exceptionally well this week,” Zverev said of Berrettini. “I saw the end of last night where he won 11 games in a row. He was almost unplayable. He was hitting the ball so hard, serving extremely well. It’s going to be difficult.”

This week, the German has scored wins over Kei Nishikori, Daniel Evans, Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem. Friday marked his first win over Nadal on clay and third in a row against the World No. 2. In Saturday’s semi-final, Zverev eased past Thiem 6-3, 6-4, breaking serve three times to end a four-match losing streak against the Austrian.

“It’’s been two great matches for me,” Zverev said of his wins over Nadal and Thiem. “I think today [it] was a little bit of a weirder match because of the wind and the conditions. But all in all, it’s been good. The job is not done yet. I hope I can do well tomorrow.”

Zverev enters Sunday’s final with a 14-2 record in the Spanish capital and a 2-1 ATP Head2Head Series record against Berrettini. All of their bouts have been at the ATP Masters 1000 level and they haven’t played each other since Zverev won their semi-final in Shanghai two years ago.

“I remember that it was tough to return,” Berrettini said. “I remember he was serving really well. The times that we played each other in Rome, obviously they were different conditions, I remember in Shanghai I think the roof was closed, the court was very fast. I guess he just served better than me and I got broken twice. That was it.”

On Friday, playing in his second ATP Masters 1000 semi-final, Berrettini stormed back for a 5-7, 6-3, 6-0 win over Cristian Garin.

In Saturday’s semi-final, the Italian took out Casper Ruud, 6-4, 6-4 by converting on 2/3 break point chances and facing zero break points of his own. It was the first time Ruud was broken all week.

“I didn’t expect this performance,” Berrettini said. “The key I think today was putting pressure on his serve, first serve and second serve. I was always trying to get the momentum and attacking even his first serve. I know that he likes to have time and run around the forehand. It worked out pretty well.”

The World No. 10 is on an eight-match win streak after capturing the ATP 250 in Belgrade. Though Sunday will be his first ATP Masters 1000 final, he has appeared in five finals, winning four of them. 


[3] M. Granollers (ESP) / H. Zeballos (ARG) vs [2] N. Mektic (CRO) / M. Pavic (CRO)

Not Before 6:30 pm

[5] A. Zverev (GER) vs [8] M. Berrettini (ITA)

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Mektic/Pavic To Face Grannolers/Zeballos For Madrid Title

  • Posted: May 08, 2021

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic are one win away from the the Mutua Madrid Open title after defeating Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen 6-4, 6-2 on Saturday.

The second seeds will take on Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos in Sunday’s final after the third seeds received a walkover from Tim Puetz and Alexander Zverev. Zverev beat Dominic Thiem in the singles semi-finals and will vie for the trophy against Matteo Berrettini or Casper Ruud on Sunday. 

Mektic and Pavic, who are 32-3 so far, are going for their sixth title of 2021 and third ATP Masters 1000 crown after winning Miami and Monte-Carlo. Granollers and Zeballos are looking to capture their first title of the season after reaching the final of Acapulco in March and picking up three crowns in 2020. 

The doubles final will take place on Sunday at 3:30pm inside Manolo Santana Stadium.

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Metkic/Pavic Aiming To Continue Momentum In Rome

  • Posted: May 08, 2021

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic have been one of the most in-form teams of the year, and they’re looking to keep the momentum going at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. The second seeds are going for their sixth title of the year – and their third ATP Masters 1000 crown – in the Italian capital. 

Mektic and Pavic have been on a tear since teaming up at the start of the season, where they began with trophies at the Antalya Open and the Murray River Open. After winning again at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, they claimed back-to-back Masters 1000 titles at the Miami Open presented by Itau and the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. They’ve amassed a 13-0 record at that level, and are currently in the Mutua Madrid Open final.

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Mektic and Pavic will start their Rome campaign against Alexander Bublik and Cristian Garin, who are playing their second tournament as a team. 

The second seeds have landed in a tricky section that also includes Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares, the Great Ocean Road Open champions. Murray and Soares are seeking their first clay win of the season, and will face Marcelo Demoliner and Daniil Medvedev in the opening round.

Top seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah lead the way in Rome, looking to add a Masters 1000 crown to their 2021 trophy haul, which includes ATP 500 titles in Dubai and Barcelona. They’ll start their campaign against Italian wild cards Fabio Fognini, the 2015 Australian Open champion (w/ Bolelli), and #NextGenATP Lorenzo Musetti.


Cabal and Farah’s section includes Miami and Monte-Carlo finalists Daniel Evans and Neal Skupski, as well as Madrid semi-finalists Tim Puetz and Alexander Zverev. The Colombians could face seventh seeds Wesley Koolhof and Jean-Julien Rojer in the quarter-finals.

Last year’s champions Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos also landed in the top half of the draw, and the Spanish-Argentine tandem is looking for its first title of the year in Rome. After contesting the Madrid final against Mektic and Pavic, they will head to Italy to face Andres Molteni and Diego Schwartzman. The Argentine duo is teaming up for the first time since 2019 in Vienna. 

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Auger-Aliassime To Kick Off Sunday Action In Rome

  • Posted: May 08, 2021

Felix Auger-Aliassime will look to get some momentum going when he begins play at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Sunday against Filip Krajinovic.

Since adding Toni Nadal to his team, Auger-Aliassime has gone 2-3 after first-round losses in Monte-Carlo and Madrid, and a quarter-final run in Barcelona. He did pick up a win over World No. 14 Denis Shapovalov in Barcelona but is still seeking his top form. 

The World No. 20 has been dealt a tough start. Krajinovic leads their ATP Head2Head Series 2-0, and won their most recent meeting in Rome last fall in straight sets.

The highest seed in action on day one is eleventh seed Pablo Carreno Busta. He’s looking to bounce back from a first-round loss in Madrid and will take on Serbia’s Laslo Djere for the first time. 

Twelfth seed David Goffin will wrap up action on Center Court when he opens against Italian wild card Salvatore Caruso. The only other main draw match will see Reilly Opelka battle Richard Gasquet in their first meeting. 


CENTER COURT start 11:00 am

F. Krajinovic (SRB) vs F. Auger-Aliassime (CAN)

L. Djere (SRB) vs [11] P. Carreno Busta (ESP)
S. Caruso (ITA) vs [12] D. Goffin (BEL)

GRAND STAND ARENA start 11:00 am

Qualifying match
Qualifying match
R. Gasquet (FRA) vs R. Opelka (USA)

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Thiem Takes Stock After Madrid: 'I Think I'm On The Right Track'

  • Posted: May 08, 2021

Third seed Dominic Thiem bowed out to Alexander Zverev in the Mutua Madrid Open semi-finals, but the Austrian is still taking his week in the Spanish capital as a win.

Thiem was competing in his first tournament since the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in March after taking time away from the Tour to ‘recharge’.

“It was a way better result than I expected,” Thiem said in his post-match press conference. “Playing-wise and physically-wise, I expected to be in a decent shape. But, of course, there are still many things to improve just to keep all intensity for all the week, day in, day out.

“Of course, some of the strokes, they need a little improvement. But I’m very optimistic that every week I’m playing now it’s going to improve. Especially for the confidence it was important to get a great result here. I’m happy that I think I’m on the right track.”

Before the tournament, Thiem opened up about needing a mental break following the euphoric high of winning his first major title at the US Open last year (d. Zverev). For Thiem, the inevitable letdown didn’t come right away; he continued to find success and went on to reach the Nitto ATP Finals championship match (l. Medvedev) to close out the season.

But after recording back-to-back early exits in Doha and Dubai, Thiem knew it was time for a break.

“I think the pandemic played a little part of it definitely because I think it’s mentally little bit more demanding to be in a bubble, to play in front of empty seats,” he explained. “But the main reason was that I won the first major [US Open], that I reached basically my lifetime goal. So, of course, it’s tough to just continue like before. 

“That was the main reason, I just had to think about it, regroup myself. That took a little bit of time.”

The time away from the courts seemed to have been just what Thiem needed. The 2017 and 2018 Madrid finalist defeated Marcos Giron, Alex de Minaur and John Isner on the way to his first semi-final of the year.


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“In general I’m super happy with the week,” Thiem said. “I would have never expected to be in the semi-finals, to play in the semi-finals [against] a player like [Zverev]. I cannot complain about anything.

“Of course, there are many things to improve for next week and then for the weeks after, as well. Just try to get to Rome, get some good practices in there, then hopefully play even better than here in Madrid.”

The World No. 4 will be back in action in Rome for the Internazionali BNL d’Italia before heading to Roland-Garros, where he reached back-to-back Grand Slam finals in 2017-18. 

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Norrie, Davidovich Fokina Advance In Rome Qualifying

  • Posted: May 08, 2021

On Saturday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia the first round of the qualifying event saw 16 players inch one step closer to the main draw.

Top seed Cameron Norrie made quick work of Pablo Cuevas 6-1, 6-3. Norrie reached the final in Estoril last week, losing in a third-set tie-break to Albert Ramos-Vinolas. He’ll take on Marco Cecchinato in the final round of qualifying on Sunday.  

Two Americans advanced with Tommy Paul taking out Juan Ignacio Londero and Frances Tiafoe beating Jozef Kovalik. Corentin Moutet eased past Italian wild card Andrea Pellegrino 7-6(5), 6-2 to set up a first meeting with Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Wild card Flavio Cobolli retired after going down a set and 2-0 to Davidovich Fokina. Davidovich Fokina just had a deep run in Estoril where he made it to the semi-finals and he also reached the quarter-finals in Monte-Carlo for his best appearance at an ATP Masters 1000.

Third seed Aljaz Bedene survived a scare from World No. 249 Italian wild card Gian Marco Moroni but closed it out 6-2, 3-6, 6-4. Five of the top six seeds advanced with sixth seed Tennys Sandgren losing to Roberto Carballes Baena 7-5, 6-3.

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