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Preview: #NextGenATP Italians Musetti & Sinner Begin Rome Runs Monday

  • Posted: May 09, 2021

#NextGenATP Italian stars Lorenzo Musetti and Jannik Sinner have captured the tennis world’s attention over the past couple of years, and on Monday they will take centre stage at home in Rome for their first-round clashes at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

Musetti will face a stiff test against 15th seed Hubert Hurkacz, who just won his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Miami. This will be their first ATP Head2Head clash. The 19-year-old Italian will surely have positive flashbacks as he walks onto Grand Stand Arena at the Foro Italico to take on the Polish No. 1.

Last September, Musetti stepped into the spotlight in Rome as a qualifier. The teen, who was No. 249 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, stunned Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori to reach the third round. Hurkacz also made a good run in Rome eight months ago, when he defeated Daniel Evans and Andrey Rublev each in three sets.


For Sinner, this will be his third main draw appearance at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, and he will face a tricky foe in French lefty Ugo Humbert, who beat him in four sets at the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals (Sinner lifted the trophy).

“It’s good to be back. For me, it’s one of the most beautiful tournaments that we are going to play on each year,” Sinner said. “It’s nice to be here. I like the conditions.”

Two years ago, a 17-year-old Sinner claimed his first Masters 1000 win in Rome against Steve Johnson. Last season, he upset Stefanos Tsitsipas to reach the third round. He will try to get off to another good start at this tournament against Humbert.

More From Rome:
Felix Battles For First Win
No Place Like Rome For #NextGenATP Sinner
Medvedev: ‘It’s All About The Small Adjustments’ On Clay

One of the most intriguing matches of the day features two former Top 10 players: Italian Fabio Fognini and former World No. 4 Kei Nishikori. The Japanese star leads their ATP Head2Head series 2-1, but Fognini claimed their last clash in the Miami quarter-finals four years ago.

They have both enjoyed success in Rome, with Nishikori making the semi-finals in 2016 and Fognini advancing to the quarter-finals in 2018. But this will surely be a baseline battle between two of the cleanest ball-strikers on the ATP Tour.

Another interesting clash will pit Daniel Evans against Taylor Fritz in their first meeting. Both players have made a semi-final on clay in 2021, with Evans reaching his first Masters 1000 semi-final in Monte-Carlo and Fritz battling to the last four in Cagliari.

The winner will play World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the second round. In Monte-Carlo, Evans stunned Djokovic for the biggest win of his career.

In other action, former World No. 3 Marin Cilic will take on in-form Kazakhstani Alexander Bublik. Last year in Rome, Cilic defeated Bublik in three sets. Aslan Karatsev, the breakthrough star of 2021, will try to maintain his form against Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in their first meeting. This will be Karatsev’s Rome debut.


CENTER COURT start 10:00 am
ATP – D. Evans (GBR) vs T. Fritz (USA)
ATP – U. Humbert (FRA) vs J. Sinner (ITA)

GRAND STAND ARENA start 10:00 am
ATP – [WC] S. Travaglia (ITA) vs B. Paire (FRA)
ATP – K. Nishikori (JPN) vs F. Fognini (ITA)
Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP – [15] H. Hurkacz (POL) vs [WC] L. Musetti (ITA)

PIETRANGELI start 10:00 am
following two WTA matches…
ATP – L. Harris (RSA) vs C. Garin (CHI)
ATP – [WC] G. Mager (ITA) vs A. de Minaur (AUS)
ATP – M. Cilic (CRO) vs A. Bublik (KAZ)

COURT 2 start 10:00 am
ATP – G. Pella (ARG) vs M. Fucsovics (HUN)
ATP – M. Kecmanovic (SRB) vs A. Karatsev (RUS)
ATP – K. Khachanov (RUS) vs [Q] F. Delbonis (ARG)
ATP – [Q] H. Dellien (BOL) vs A. Mannarino (FRA)
ATP – [LL] A. Bedene (SLO) vs J. Struff (GER)

COURT 4 start 12:00 noon
ATP – J. Peers (AUS) / M. Venus (NZL) vs A. Krajicek (USA) / O. Marach (AUT)
ATP – [6] J. Murray (GBR) / B. Soares (BRA) vs M. Demoliner (BRA) / D. Medvedev (RUS)
ATP – R. Bopanna (IND) / D. Shapovalov (CAN) vs M. Daniell (NZL) / P. Oswald (AUT)
ATP – Alternate vs H. Kontinen (FIN) / E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA)

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No Place Like Rome For #NextGenATP Sinner

  • Posted: May 09, 2021

#NextGenATP Italian Jannik Sinner continues to climb to new heights in 2021, from reaching his first final in Miami to a new career-high FedEx ATP Ranking. But amid a season of first times and tournament debuts, the 19-year-old is just looking forward to being back on familiar turf at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

Sinner broke into the Top 20 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time after his final run at the Miami Open presented by Itau, where he reached his first Masters 1000 final. The Italian, who claimed his second tour-level title at the Great Ocean Road Open in February, went on to reach the second-round at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and semi-finals at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.

One thing all of these tournaments had in common for Sinner? He was playing each one for the first time, and had to adapt to a new venue and new conditions as he navigated his first full season inside the ATP’s Top 100.

“Obviously I think the past couple of weeks have been quite good, I have to say, starting from Miami then coming back on clay,” Sinner reflected in his pre-tournament press conference. “I actually played the first week quite well in Monte-Carlo. So [it] gave me a little bit of confidence for Barcelona and I played some good matches there.

“But at the end of the day, these were all new tournaments for me. I never played Miami or Monte-Carlo. It’s good for me, making experience. With my age and what I’m doing right now, it’s [about] trying to improve day after day.”

The 19-year-old is relishing the opportunity to be back at the Foro Italico to compete in his ‘home tournament’. Rome is the only ATP Masters 1000 event where Sinner has contested the main draw before this season, with a second-round finish in 2019 (l. Tsitsipas) and a run to the third round (l. Dimitrov) last year (both times with a wild card).


At the 2020 edition, Sinner turned heads with a roller coaster victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second round. The Italian triumphed 6-1, 6-7(9), 6-2, avenging his defeat to the Greek player in the previous edition.

“Here in Rome, especially for Italian players, it’s like a home tournament,” Sinner said. “At the end of the day people know you a little bit better. For me, it’s one of the most beautiful tournaments that we are going to play each year. It’s nice to be here. I like the conditions. Rome is a little bit [later] in the beginning of the clay season, so everybody gets a little bit used to the conditions. It’s nice to be here.”

Sinner will face Ugo Humbert in his opening match in Rome. Humbert owns a 1-0 lead in his ATP Head2Head rivalry against Sinner after defeating the Italian 4-3, 3-4, 4-2, 4-2 at the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals.

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Zverev Completes Magical Madrid Run

  • Posted: May 09, 2021

Alexander Zverev earned his second Mutua Madrid Open title on Sunday when he defeated Matteo Berrettini 6-7(8), 6-4, 6-3 to lift his fourth ATP Masters 1000 trophy.

The fifth seed, who was unable to convert a set point at 7/6 in the first-set tie-break, claimed three service breaks in the next two sets to complete a memorable week at La Caja Magica with the trophy. Zverev overcame three consecutive Top 10 stars to claim the title, following earlier wins against five-time champion Rafael Nadal and two-time runner-up Dominic Thiem.

“It is great [to win this title], especially after losing my last three finals I played at Masters 1000 events,” Zverev said in his post-match interview. “This is definitely special and I just want to enjoy this one.”

This is the second time that the 24-year-old has posted three or more Top 10 wins at a single event, following his 2018 title run at the Nitto ATP Finals (4). Zverev had not won consecutive matches in three straight tournaments before arriving in the Spanish capital.


Zverev’s victory ended a three-year Masters 1000 title drought for the German. The World No. 6 did not drop his serve en route to his first Madrid crown in 2018. Zverev owns a 15-2 record in Madrid, which represents his best win percentage (.882) across all nine Masters 1000 tournaments.

Zverev and Berrettini’s clash was the fourth straight Masters 1000 final to be contested by past or present #NextGenATP players. Since the #NextGenATP campaign began in 2016, with players born in 1995 or later, Zverev has won more tour-level titles than any other #NextGenATP alumnus. The 6’6” right-hander has lifted 15 ATP Tour titles, five trophies clear of second-placed Daniil Medvedev (10).

Recent ATP Masters 1000 Finals Between #NextGenATP Alumni

Event Champion (Age) Runner-Up (Age)
2021 Madrid Alexander Zverev (24) Matteo Berrettini (25)
2021 Monte-Carlo Stefanos Tsitsipas (22) Andrey Rublev (23)
2021 Miami Hubert Hurkacz (24) Jannik Sinner (19)
2020 Paris Daniil Medvedev (24) Alexander Zverev (23)

After trading breaks late in the first set, Berrettini overpowered Zverev to establish a 5/0 tie-break lead. Zverev made a remarkable comeback to earn set point at 7/6, but Berrettini played with aggression on his serve and forehand to escape danger. Four points later, the Italian fired another powerful serve out wide to convert his fourth set point.

Zverev served with confidence and capitalised on a series of errors from his opponent at 4-4 in the second set to push the match to a decider, and he rode the momentum into the third set. The 2018 Nitto ATP Finals champion outlasted Berrettini in baseline rallies to break at 2-2 and he converted his second championship point when the eighth seed fired wide on an attempted crosscourt backhand.

“[Matteo’s] game style showed it all,” Zverev said. “I didn’t play anybody this week that can serve 235[km/h] on clay and serve 230km/h kick serves. It definitely was a different match and I am extremely happy right now.”

Zverev will now travel to Rome, where he will compete as the sixth seed at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. The 15-time ATP Tour titlist has reached two finals in the Italian capital, highlighted by his maiden Masters 1000 triumph in 2017.

“Rome is also an event I like and enjoy, so I hope I can perform [in] the same way as I did here and we will see how it goes there. I feel awesome,” Zverev said.

Berrettini was aiming to join 2019 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters champion Fabio Fognini as only the second Italian to win a Masters 1000 crown. The 25-year-old, who entered the Madrid final on an eight-match winning streak, defeated Fognini, Federico Delbonis, Cristian Garin and Casper Ruud en route to his maiden Masters 1000 final. Berrettini has compiled an 8-2 record on clay this year since recovering from an abdominal injury he sustained at the Australian Open in February.

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Medvedev: ‘It’s All About The Small Adjustments’ On Clay

  • Posted: May 09, 2021

Different week, same goal for Daniil Medvedev.

After breaking his duck with a maiden victory at the Mutua Madrid Open last week, the third seed has his sights set on doing the same at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.

Keeping the expectations in check and goals manageable has been the theme of the clay-court swing for Medvedev, who is famously averse to all things clay. After missing the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters due to COVID-19, Medvedev began his run with a 0-2 record in Madrid and Rome and 0-4 at Roland Garros.

But according to Medvedev, the positive signs are there in Madrid after he took down an in-form Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in his opening match and pushed 16th seed Cristian Garin to three sets.

“If we talk about Madrid, of course in general the result I did there, I’m not happy, but I played against two really great clay-court players,” Medvedev said in his pre-tournament press conference.

“I mean, Davidovich beat [Matteo] Berrettini in Monte-Carlo, and now Berrettini is in the final in Madrid. Cristian was actually up a set and a break against Matteo, who is in the final of Madrid. [It] was two good matches, one that I managed to win, so [it] gives [me] some confidence.”

Medvedev also admitted that he’s still working to fine-tune his game on the red dirt, and is still trying to figure out the right formula for the results he is used to seeing on the faster surfaces. The Russian reached his second Grand Slam final on hard-courts at the Australian Open this year (also 2019 US Open) and ended last season with the biggest trophy of his career at the indoor Nitto ATP Finals.


But he has also fought to big wins on clay too. In 2019, Medvedev made the Monte-Carlo semi-finals with victories over Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas. That same year, he went on to reach the final in Barcelona (l. Thiem) with a victory over two-time champion Kei Nishikori along the way.

“I’m never going to be like some Spanish players that from [when] they are young they know, ‘Okay, I turn around the forehand, I spin the ball, I play high over the net, I make the ball bounce close to the line,’” Medvedev reflected.

“So I have to, with my shots that I know how to make work on hard courts, make small adjustments to make them work for clay… Physically I need to improve and matches will help me. It’s about the small adjustments.”

Into the second round with a bye in Rome, Medvedev awaits the winner between Miomir Kecmanovic and countryman Aslan Karatsev for his first test.

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Felix Battles For First Win In Rome

  • Posted: May 09, 2021

Felix Auger-Aliassime made it third time lucky at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, but needed to work mightily hard for his first victory at the Foro Italico on Sunday.

The #NextGenATP Canadian battled to 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4 victory over Filip Krajinovic of Serbia in two hours and 46 minutes. He is now 13-8 on the season, which includes a runner-up finish at the Murray River Open (l. to Evans) in February.

“I’m really happy,” said Auger-Aliassime. “[It was] a tough match. I’m happy I was able to win today. You’ve got to believe and be resilient at times. I wanted to win badly, so I dug deep and I found a way.”

Auger-Aliassime first served for the match when he led 5-4 in the second set, and endured a tense finish in the decider to set up a second-round clash against eighth seed and 2020 runner-up Diego Schwartzman of Argentina.


Auger-Aliassime was broken in the first game, but his forehand soon worked wonders to break Krajinovic’s serve at 1-2 and when he led 4-3. The 20-year-old completed the 42-minute opener with his sixth ace.

From 3-3 in the first set, Auger-Aliassime won five straight games to a 2-0 lead in the second set. The World No. 20 was broken to 30 when serving for the match at 5-4, but won the first two games of the decider, which included five breaks of serve. Krajinovic, who reached the Rome third round last year, converted nine of 15 break points in a late surge.

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