Zverev, Berrettini: The View From Both Sides

Alexander Zverev and Matteo Berrettini (photo: @MutuaMadridOpen/Twitter)

MADRID/WASHINGTON, May 10, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

World No. 10 Matteo Berrettini was a set away from winning his first ATP Masters 1000 title in the biggest final of his career at the Mutua Madrid Open on Sunday. After dramatically winning an 18-point first-set tie-break, one figured that momentum would favor the 25-year-old Italian from Rome. After all, he had been more focused and aggressive during the early stages of the match. However, World No. 6 Alexander Zverev would have the last word before the late-spring, rainy evening on Manolo Santana Stadium ended.

Zverev fought and clawed his way back, garnering three breaks of the No. 8 seed Berrettini’s serve over the next two sets and after two hours and 40 minutes of entertaining, high-quality tennis, it was the 24-year-old German – the fifth seed from Hamburg – who won his second Madrid title with a 6-7 (8), 6-4, 6-3 triumph. The victory improved Zverev’s record in the Spanish Masters event to 15-2. It also his fourth Masters 1000 title and his 15th ATP Tour crown.

“I think it was a good week for me,” Zverev told Tennis TourTalk during his virtual get-together with reporters that took place about 90 minutes after he beat Berrettini and lifted the Ion Tiriac Trophy. “Matteo today was extremely difficult for me in a way I hadn’t played anybody who serves 235 (km/h) and dominates the ball like he does. Against Matteo, it was extremely difficult, just getting the ball back in play and getting the ball deep enough to have a chance to win the point. Coming back from a set down to win the title, I’m extremely happy with that.”

If there was anything for Berrettini to feel proud about in defeat, making his tournament debut in Madrid this week, it was that he was the only player to win a set off of Zverev in either of the German’s two championship runs at La Caja Mágica in the Spanish capital city.

After thanking the fans in both English and Spanish, Berrettini settled in for his final virtual press conference of the tournament, in which the introspective Italian has always been thoughtful in expressing himself in front of the international media.

Tennis TourTalk asked Berrettini if he had any regrets after losing the title match to Zverev. He didn’t. He answered the question in a contemplative tone by saying: “I actually felt that in the first set, even though I was up a break, I wasn’t playing my best tennis. I was playing good at the beginning of the second and I couldn’t get the break, nothing. Then, the third it was a fight. No regrets at all. I left it all [out there on the court]. I played good – I didn’t play unbelievable – but I think also it’s what [Sascha] did to make me play not my best tennis.”

Berrettini continued to take questions in English before he finished his virtual press conference speaking in Italian.

“[To reach my first Masters 1000 final is an] unbelievable feeling. I’m really proud of myself [and] the work I’ve done, not just in the past months, but in my career so far,” Berrettini said. “I wasn’t one of the guys at 18, 19, 20 [who] was thinking about these kinds of achievements. I really worked hard to be here.

“Now that I’m here, I’m upset I lost. It’s important for my tennis, for my level. Sascha won, not easily, but in two sets against Thiem and Rafa, and today [he] was struggling against me. This is definitely a good feeling and something that I have to use, to build [on] in my next tournaments. It hurts now, but I know this loss is going to be useful.”

As for Zverev, he had the last word on Madrid. “Look, at the end of the day I just won a Masters,” he said. “It’s my fourth one. I’m happy with that. That’s for me one of the most important things right now. Obviously, I want to be happy for about 30 seconds, then obviously Rome is next. There’s still big tournaments coming up.”

By the numbers