ZVEREV’S BACK-TO-BACK TI­TLE BID OFF TO FLY­ING START

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - SPORTS -

Alexan­der Zverev got his Rome ti­tle de­fense un­der way at the Ital­ian Open on Wed­nes­day with a straight-sets win over Italy’s Mat­teo Ber­ret­tini as the Ger­man bids for backto-back Mas­ters tri­umphs after suc­cess in Madrid.

The sec­ond seed eased past Ber­ret­tini, 7-5, 6-2, to join for­mer win­ners Rafael Nadal and No­vak Djokovic in the third round at the Foro Ital­ico as Aus­trian Do­minic Thiem fell at the first hurdle.

“It’s not easy to come from Madrid where there’s a lot of al­ti­tude and it’s very fast,” said Zverev.

But sixth seed Thiem crashed out just a week after in­flict­ing a first clay-court de­feat on Nadal in over a year in Madrid which cost the Spa­niard the world num­ber one rank­ing.

The 24-year-old de­stroyed his racket in fury as he suf­fered his first loss to Ital­ian Fabio Fognini in three meet­ings, sink- ing, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.

For ris­ing Ger­man star Zverev it was a 10th con­sec­u­tive win after back-to-back ti­tle runs at Mu­nich and Madrid.

Zverev trailed 0/40 in the third game but rolled off five points to hold. He broke in the 11th game and later served out the set.

Ber­ret­tini turned on his right an­kle at 1-2 in the sec­ond set and looked in dif­fi­culty, al­low­ing Zverev to push through.

The 21-year-old from Ham- burg next meets Bri­tain’s Kyle Ed­mund, who beat Djokovic in the Madrid sec­ond round, and got past Lu­cas Pouille, 6-2, 7-6 (7/3), in Rome on Wed­nes­day.

Mean­while, clay king Nadal was re­lieved to be back win­ning as he builds to­ward the French Open, rac­ing to a 6-1, 6-0 vic­tory over Bos­nian Damir Dzumhur.

“After a loss in Madrid, it’s im­por­tant to come back strong,” said Nadal, eye­ing an eighth Rome ti­tle and first since 2013. —

—AP

Zverev ROME—

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