By Santiago Aparicio
Madrid, May 9 (EFE).- Germany’s Alexander Zverev on Sunday reconquered the Madrid Open tennis tourney that he had won three years ago, defeating Matteo Berrettini 6-7(10), 6-4 and 6-3.
The Hamburg player, seeded fifth and one of the key figures in the so-called “Next Gen” group of tennis stars, secured the trophy on solid play over the two hours and 42 minutes of his confrontation with his Italian rival, with the match oscillating back and forth right up until the final stretch, when Berrenetti seemed to deflate and Zverev took advantage of the collapse to seal the win.
It was a frustrating result for Berrettini, who recently won in Belgrade and was facing the biggest challenge of his career in a tough year marked by a spate of injuries that has held him back.
Zverev, meanwhile, with much more positive experiences and more used to dealing with crucial moments in his own career – having won the US Open last year, the first Grand Slam victory, with three Masters 1000 events three times so far – played consistently and took advantage of his own reliable serve right up until the end of the hard-fought match.
The contest took place on a covered court with the president of the Madrid Community – Isabel Diaz Ayuso – among the spectators. The head of Spain’s conservative Popular Party was the focus of some of the attention at the match, seated beside Madrid Mayor Jose Luis Martinez Almeida, and had to rise to greet the crowd after she was hailed by many of those present.
The rainy conditions in the Spanish capital forced tennis authorities to close the retractable roof over the Manolo Santana claycourt at the Caja Magica.
Zverev, who had gotten to the final without losing a single set in the previous rounds of the tourney, had to adjust his play to deal with Berrettini’s early onslaught.
The German had beaten Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem during the earlier rounds and broke his rival’s service early, but he got broken right back and the first set went into a tiebreak with the Italian going up 5-0 at first only to have Zverez laying for him and fighting back, although Berrettini ultimately took the set.
Zverev, however, counterattacked strongly in the next set, breaking Berrettini in the ninth game, thus forcing a third-set decider.
The Italian threw away a break point chance with the pair even at 2-2 in the final set and then seemed to run into some difficulty, weakening a bit as the German slowly but surely gained, finally breaking Berrettini again in the fifth game for the victory.
It was Zverev’s third win over Berrettini in their five encounters so far, all at Masters 1000 tourneys. This was the 15th title for the German and his second of the year, after winning in Acapulco.
The 25-year-old Berrettini, ranked No. 10 in the world, has four trophies in his trophy case so far, but none of the caliber of the Madrid Open.
Next, Zverev will head to Rome next week and then it will be on to Roland Garros as he tries for his first Grand Slam title.
Meanwhile, in doubles action, Spain’s Marcel Granollers and Argentina’s third-seeded Horacio Zeballos took the men’s title in Madrid on Sunday, defeating Croatia’s Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic 1-6, 6-3 and 10-8. Granollers is the first Spaniard to win the doubles tourney but Zeballos has taken 17 doubles trophies so far.
The pair took 75 minutes to down the Croatians, thus winning their third Masters 1000 event after their success in Montreal in 2019 and in Rome last year, when they also won in Buenos Aires and in Rio de Janeiro.
The Spain-Argentina pair had gone up against the two Croatians in the Montecarlo Masters 1000 doubles contest a few weeks ago, with the latter emerging victorious in the 6-3, 7-5 outing.