The Citizen (Gauteng)

Zverev is a big threat on clay


Madrid – Alexander Zverev (above) recovered from a set down to defeat Matteo Berrettini 6-7 (8/10), 6-4, 6-3 and win the Madrid Open for a second time Sunday as he clinched a fourth Masters 1000 title.

The German fifth-seed recorded his third consecutiv­e top-10 victory this week, having eliminated five-time Madrid champion Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem to reach the final.

Zverev, last year’s US Open runner-up, added to his 2018 Madrid triumph as he denied Berrettini successive titles following the Italian’s win in Belgrade last month.

“It is great (to win this title), especially after losing my last three finals I played at Masters 1000 events,” Zverev said.

“This is definitely special and I just want to enjoy this one.”

Zverev was full of praise for his Italian rival though.

“Matteo was an extremely difficult opponent, because I had not faced anyone who serves at 235 km/h, who dominates the ball like him.

“Against Rafa (Nadal) and Dominic (Thiem), the matches were different, although they are obviously excellent clay players, perhaps the two best at the moment.

“Against Matteo, it was extremely difficult to just put the ball back in the court.”

Zverev is targeting a second Rome title at the Foro Italico next week.

He captured his first Masters there in 2017 before also winning in Montreal later that year.

“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,” said Zverev.

After Rome, the German star will target a maiden Grand Slam title at Roland Garros, where he has yet to get beyond the quarterfin­als in Paris.

“To play well at Roland Garros, you have to play well during the season on clay. In that sense, it’s (Sunday’s win) important to me,” said Zverev after earning his second title of the season.

Berrettini, making his Madrid main draw debut this week, was attempting to become this year’s third first-time Masters champion after Hubert Hurkacz (Miami) and Stefanos Tsitsipas (Monte Carlo).

“I think we had a great fight. It’s tough, this sport is crazy. It’s a really good moment of my career but at the same time it’s not that great because I lost,” said Berrettini. –

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