Sinner sets up 2nd round clash with Nadal in Rome; Zverev clinches Madrid Open title - GulfToday

Sinner sets up 2nd round clash with Nadal in Rome; Zverev clinches Madrid Open title

Jannik Sinner

Jannik Sinner returns the ball to Ugo Humbert (unseen) during their Italian Open match in Rome on Monday. Associated Press

Jannik Sinner booked a second-round showdown with nine-time champion Rafael Nadal at the Italian Open after a 6-2, 6-4 win over Frenchman Ugo Humbert on Monday.

The Italian teenager will face the 20-time Grand Slam winner for the second time, having impressed against Nadal in last year’s French Open quarter-finals despite losing in straight sets.

Nadal has a 9-2 record on clay this season but was beaten in the last eight at both previous Masters events, in Monte Carlo and Madrid.

Aslan Karatsev matched Sinner with his 20th win of the season. The Russian beat Miomir Kecmanovic 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 in the opening round. Only Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev have won more ATP matches this year (27).

Australian Open semi-finalist Karatsev will play compatriot and Melbourne runner-up Daniil Medvedev for a place in the last 16. Medvedev, who had a first-round bye, is chasing a first win in Rome in his third appearance at the tournament.

Taylor Fritz awaits defending champion Novak Djokovic in round two after the American brushed aside Dan Evans 6-3, 6-2. Djokovic and Nadal have accounted for 14 of the past 16 titles at the Foro Italico.

Kei Nishikori overcame Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-4 in a meeting of former top-10 players.

Reigning women’s French Open champion Iga Swiatek advanced when Alison Riske retired in the first set of their opening-round encounter, while Coco Gauff outlasted Yulia Putintseva 7-5, 4-6, 6-4.

Petra Kvitova recovered from a dreadful start to overhaul Magda Linette of Poland 1-6, 6-0, 6-2 and and Amanda Anisimoa eliminated Wang Qiang 7-5, 6-3.

Zverev shines: Alexander Zverev 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 on 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 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.

“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. However, he has yet to get beyond the quarter-finals 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.

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).

‘Great fight’: “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.

World number 10 Berrettini landed the first blow as he broke Zverev to move 4-3 ahead in the opening set at the Caja Magica, only to drop his service the very next game.

The Italian raced into a 5-0 lead in the tie-break but Zverev clawed it back to 5-4 before two set points slipped beyond the grasp of Berrettini.

Zverev failed to take a set point of his own at 7-6 and then saved a third, but a double fault at 8-8 handed Berrettini another opportunity that this time he did not let go to waste.

Agence France-Presse

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