Maria Sharapova takes a hard-fought match over Petra Kvitova to give Russia a 2-1 lead - UBITENNIS
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Maria Sharapova takes a hard-fought match over Petra Kvitova to give Russia a 2-1 lead

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Maria Sharapova fought back from a set down to defeat Petra Kvitova 3-6 6-4 6-2  to give Russia a 2-1 lead in the third singles rubber match at the Fed Cup Final at the O2 Arena in Prague. This win puts Russia one win away from their first Fed Cup win since 2008. Karolina Pliskova needs to win against Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova to keep Czech hopes alive.

 

Kvitova and Sharapova clashed for the 11th time in their careers. Sharapova led 6-4 in their previous head-to-head matches but was 4-3 on hard-court, although Kvitova won their last two matches in straight sets in the last two editions of the WTA Finals in Singapore.

Kvitova converted her third break point with her volley to go up 1-0 before consolidating the break in the second game. Sharapova saved a break point to get her first game on the scoreboard. From a break point down Sharapova held her serve with an ace and two unreturnable serves.

Kvitova led 4-2 with a comfortable hold of serve. The Czech player put pressure on Sharapova who had not earned a break point in the first six games. Sharapova held her serve in the seventh game to claw her way back to 3-4. Kvitova broke serve to love in the final game to seal the first set with 6-3 after 46 minutes as Sharapova hit a volley into the net.

Sharapova earned her first break points of the match in the first game of the second set but Kvitova saved them to hold her serve. Sharapova saved five break point chances in a very long second game winning the game point at deuce with a groundstroke onto the line. At 1-2 Sharapova had a cofortable hold in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Sharapova got her first break of the match in the fifth game to take the 3-2 lead. Kvitova broke back to love to draw level to 3-3 after a double fault and two attempted drop-shots into the net by Sharapova.

In a 11-minute seventh game Kvitova saved break points before holding her serve with a forehand winner. In the 8th game Sharapova earned a game point with a slice before holding her serve to draw level to 4-4 with a serve and a winner. Kvitova made two double faults at 4-4 40-15. Sharapova took advantage to break serve at deuce for 5-4. Once again Sharapova proved to be one of the fiercest competitors when she served out in the most crucial moment of the match to love to force the match to the third set.

Both players held their serve in the first four games of the decider without any break points. sharapova rallied from 15-30 down to break serve in the fifth game for a 3-2 lead. Sharapova held serve to consolidate her break for 4-2. Sharapova got the double break to pull away to 5-2 as Kvitova made her 8th double fault of the match on break point. Sharapova closed out with a forehand winner to hold her serve to love for 6-2 after a hard-fought match.

Kvitova has lost for the third time in 26 Fed Cup match since 2011. Before today’s defeat the Czech player lost against Ana Ivanovic in the 2012 final in the O2 Arena in Prague and against Roberta Vinci in the semifinal of the 2013 Fed Cup Final in Palermo.

“It’s an incredible achievement for me because I have never been in a Fed Cup Final. Petra played an unbelievable first set. She was so aggressive, hitting really deep all the strokes. I didn’t have the momentum in tbe first set. I felt once I got the energy back”, said Sharapova

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Matteo Berrettini Says Words From Federer’s Coach Ljubicic Aided Belief In His Game

The Italian is currently on an eight-match winning streak after what has been a bumpy start to the year.

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Matteo Berrettini at the 20201 Madrid Open (image via Media Hub Mutua Madrid Open)

Matteo Berrettini is a win away from his maiden Masters 1000 title at the Madrid Open during what has been a roller-coaster journey on the Tour this season.

 

The world No.10 started 2020 in good form with high-profile wins over Dominic Thiem, Gael Monfils and Roberto Bautista Agut at the ATP Cup. Then at the Australian Open he reached the fourth round for the first time in his career before disaster struck. An abdominal injury forced him to pull out of the Grand Slam and would eventually result in Berrettini being sidelined from the Tour for almost two months.

However, since returning to competitive tennis last month the 25-year-old has managed to win eight out of nine matches played on the clay prior to the title match in Madrid. His only loss was in Monte Carlo to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

“I worked really hard in my pre-season, but I wasn’t feeling like really, really good on the court. But I knew that the work that I’ve done eventually would have paid off somehow,” Berrettini told reporters on Saturday.
“I have to say that since I went to Australia and I started quarantine, the practice and stuff, with my coach we said, ‘Okay, I’m playing good, I’m good.’
“Sometimes it is a matter of mental performance or just that your confidence is building up.”

Berrettini, who reached the semi-finals of the 2019 US Open, credits his team for aiding a growth in his confidence. One particular member he has high praise for is his manager Ivan Ljubicic. A former world No.3 player from Croatia who is a coach for Roger Federer. The Croat has his own management, sponsorship and consulting agency called LJ Sports Group which Berrettini is a member of.

“My manager, Ivan Ljubicic. He helped me in a way. He just told me he really believes in me. That kind of stuff helps, especially because it’s coming from someone who had an unbelievable career. It really helped me in that way,” he said.

Standing in Berrettini’s way of his first Masters 1000 title is former champion Alexander Zverev who is yet to drop a set in the tournament. He is 7-9 against top 10 opposition so far in his career and his first win over a top-10 opponent was Zverev on the clay back in 2019 (in Rome). However, he has lost his two other meetings against the German.

“It’s going to be a challenging match, but I’m in the finals. I guess the best two guys are going to play each other,” he concluded.

Berrettini is only the third Italian man to reach a Masters final since the series was created after Fabio Fognini and Jannik Sinner.

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Madrid Open Daily Preview: Sascha Zverev Plays Matteo Berrettini for the Men’s Championship

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Italian No.1 Matteo Berrettini, on Saturday in Madrid (twitter.com/MutuaMadridOpen)

Three years ago in Madrid, Sascha Zverev won this event, defeating Dominic Thiem in the final.  That was Zverev’s third Masters 1000 title, all earned within one year.  Sascha’s results at Majors have progressed since that time, though Sascha is yet to achieve his fourth Masters title, despite reaching three further finals.  The 24-year-old German has not dropped a set this week, which includes noteworthy back-to-back victories over the two best clay court players of the last five years: Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem.

 

Three years ago in Gstaad, Matteo Berrettini won his first ATP title, and his first of three on clay.  The 25-year-old Italian has claimed a total of four 250-level titles, including one just two weeks ago in Belgrade.  But this marks Berrettini’s first time advancing to the final of an event outside the 250 Series, though he notably reached the semifinals of the 2019 US Open.  Matteo has taken eight of nine sets played this week, and came back from a set and a break down in the quarterfinals against Cristian Garin, winning the last 11 games of that match.

Sascha Zverev (5) vs. Matteo Berrettini (8) – Not Before 6:30pm

Zverev leads their head-to-head 2-1, though they’ve split their two clay court encounters.  At the 2018 Rome Masters, Zverev prevailed.  A year later at the same event, Berrettini prevailed.  Their only other meeting took place at the 2019 Shanghai Masters, which went to Sascha.  All three of their matches have been decided in straight sets.

Including his victories this week over Nadal and Thiem, Zverev is now on a three-match winning streak against top 10 opposition, ending a streak of five consecutive losses against the top 10.  Berrettini has only played two matches against the top 10 since the 2019 ATP Finals, as injuries have forced him to miss significant time from the tour.  Despite that, he’s now 16-3 this season, and currently on an eight-match win streak.

Zverev certainly has the experience edge in matches of this caliber, and has a bit more variety in his ground game, specifically his backhand.  Berrettini will look to dictate play with his powerful forehand.  Both players are capable of racking up a high ace tally, though Sascha’s second serve can be a recurring weakness.  While we’ve had two consecutive Masters events with first-time 1000-level champions crowned, Zverev should be favored to win his fourth Masters title, and his second in Madrid.

Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (2) vs. Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos (3) – 3:30pm

The men’s doubles championship will also be decided on Sunday.  Mektic and Pavic are 32-3 in 2021, and looking to win their sixth title of the season.  A few weeks ago in the Monte-Carlo semifinals, they defeated Granollers and Zeballos in a deciding set tiebreak.

Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Alexander Zverev Denies Thiem To Reach Second Madrid Final

Alexander Zverev will look for his 4th Masters 1000 title tomorrow.

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Alexander Zverev (@MutuaMadridOpen - Twitter)

Alexander Zverev produced a dominant display to ease past Dominic Thiem 6-3 6-4 and reach the final in Madrid.

 

The German reached his second Mutua Madrid Open final after cruising past an under-par Dominic Thiem in straight sets.

Tomorrow Zverev will play either Casper Ruud or Matteo Berrettini as he looks for his fourth Masters 1000 title.

It was a scrappy contest throughout as the Austrian couldn’t dictate points from the baseline on a regular basis.

Both players’ serve was shaky in the early stages of the match even if they did produce comfortable holds of serve.

After saving a break point in the previous game, the world number six dealt the first blow as his dominant groundstrokes secured the opportunity to break and on the fourth opportunity he did for a 3-1 lead.

Creating effective patterns of play on serve was one thing but there was a lack of clinical edge to Thiem’s play on return as the German continued to look comfortable on serve.

Both players produced stunning points on serve towards the end of the set as Zverev took the opening set 6-3 in 43 minutes.

It was Zverev who continued to apply the pressure in the second having created break points on the first three return games.

There was nothing Thiem was able to do as his serving inconsistency was his own downfall with plenty of double faults being produced.

Two out of three breaks saw the 5th seed in the driving seat as he took a 4-1 lead.

After that though, the tennis was low-quality and it was a slugfest to see who could produce the least amount of errors.

All of the sudden Zverev produced tight points, remained cautious and was getting irritated by the Electronic Line Calling system.

The Austrian dug deep to break and save three break points to hold as he used stunning angles to open space in the court.

However it was the 2018 champion who held his nerve and sealed victory to reach his second Madrid final.

After the match Zverev revealed his excitement in playing another final, “It is going to mean a lot to me [if I can win the final]. I am definitely looking forward to it,” The German said in his on-court interview.

“I am definitely looking forward to playing another big final and I hope I can turn it my way this time.”

Zverev will meet Casper Ruud or Matteo Berrettini in a bid to win her 4th Masters 1000 title.

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