Zverev clay-court horror show continues with Italian Open exit

Italy’s Matteo Berrettini after winning a point to Alexander Zverev of Germany at the Italian Open in Rome on Tuesday. (AP)
Updated 15 May 2019
0

Zverev clay-court horror show continues with Italian Open exit

  • The German has yet to win a trophy this season and stands 4-6 on clay this spring

ROME: Germany’s Alexander Zverev crashed out of the Italian Open on Tuesday with a 7-5, 7-5 loss to Italian wild card Matteo Berrettini in the second round.
“The match that I played was horrendous,” said Zverev after the game which took 1hr 48min on the red clay of the Foro Italico.
Zverev, the 2017 winner and runner-up in Rome last year to Novak Djokovic, has had a terrible start to the clay-court season with the French Open starting on May 26.
The 22-year-old lost his Madrid Open title last week, falling in the quarterfinals of both Madrid and Munich to Stefanos Tsitsipas and Cristian Garin respectively.
The German has yet to win a trophy this season and stands 4-6 on clay this spring.
Zverev had been seeded fourth in the final clay-court warmup before Roland Garros, and was playing his first game having received a first-round bye.
Last year, Zverev reached the final in Rome beating Berrettini there in their only previous meeting.
But the 33rd-ranked Italian has been on form capturing his second ATP title on clay in Budapest last month, and reached the final in Munich.
Zverev started with a break in the second set, but lost this advantage immediately.
The 33rd-ranked Italian survived four break points, breaking the German in the 12th game to close 7-5 to the delight of the home crowd.
Berrettini will play Argentine Diego Schwartzman, who eased past Yoshihito Nishioka 6-1, 6-4 in 73 minutes.
Belgian David Goffin rallied from a set down to beat former French Open champion Stan Wawrinka in three sets and advance to the second round.
The 28-year-old Goffin won through 4-6, 6-0, 6-2 in 1hr 55min against the three-time Grand Slam winner to set up a meeting with Argentine seventh seed Juan Martin Del Potro for a place in the third round.
Ninth seed Marin Cilic beat Italian wild card Andrea Basso 6-1, 7-5 as Australian Nick Kyrgios needed three sets to get past Russian 12th seed Daniil Medvedev.
“I knew it was going to be tough today because I haven’t played much on clay,” said Kyrgios, who next plays Norwegian qualifier Casper Ruud.
Portgual’s Joao Sousa saved four match points in the deciding set to battle past American Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/4).
Sousa, who also trailed 1/4 in the deciding set tie-break, will play third seed Roger Federer in the second round.
Eight time Rome winner Rafael Nadal will open his tournament against Jeremy Chardy in the second round after the Frenchman beat compatriot Richard Gasquet 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 in a match suspended overnight on Monday.


‘On edge’ Federer makes winning Paris return

Updated 27 May 2019
0

‘On edge’ Federer makes winning Paris return

  • Angelique Kerber’s hopes of completing career Grand slam end after early exit
  • Kerber, 31, has now lost six times in the French Open first round

PARIS: Roger Federer marked his return to Roland Garros after a four-year absence with a straight sets win over Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego on Sunday, admitting he “felt on edge,” as Angelique Kerber’s hopes of completing a career Grand Slam suffered a quick kill.

Federer, a 20-time major winner, had not played the tournament since 2015 when he reached the quarterfinals.

However, on Sunday, it was as if the 37-year-old had never been away as he swept to a 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 victory in one hour 41 minutes on a packed, rebuilt Court Philippe Chatrier.

It was his 60th successive first round win at a Grand Slam.

“I felt on edge at the start, my heart was beating crazily,” said Federer, who hailed the new-look stadium which has been 90 percent rebuilt in readiness for the installation of a retractable roof for 2020.

“I felt great playing on this court. It looks very attractive, so congratulations to everyone involved.

“Hopefully I can play here again for my next match.”

That match will be against German lucky loser Oscar Otte who won just his second match in eight years on the tour by seeing off Malek Jaziri of Tunisia 6-3, 6-1, 4-6, 6-0.

“I would be surprised if Roger knew my name,” said Otte, the world No. 145.

Federer broke serve five times and fired 36 winners past 24-year-old Sonego, the world No. 73 who made the quarterfinals at the Monte Carlo Masters.

German fifth seed and reigning Wimbledon champion Kerber saw her hopes of a career Grand Slam ended by Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova.

Kerber slumped to a 6-4, 6-2 defeat to 18-year-old Potapova who was making her French Open debut.

“Kerber is actually one of my idols, and when I was young I was looking for her game,” said the 81st-ranked Russian who hit 28 winners past her German opponent.

Kerber, 31, has now lost six times in the French Open first round.

The German left-hander had come into Roland Garros carrying a right ankle injury which forced her to pull out of the Italian Open and retire from her second round tie in Madrid.

“I didn’t have many expectations coming in,” said Kerber, who was broken six times in the match which brought the curtain up on the newlook Chatrier arena.

Potapova’s first win over a top 10 player gives her a second round clash against 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic.

Greek sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who stunned Federer on his way to the Australian Open semifinals and beat 11-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal in Madrid, also made the second round.

The 20-year-old sixth seed brushed aside Germany’s Maximilian Marterer 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (7/4).

The new Court Simonne Mathieu, a 5,000-capacity semi-sunken arena enclosed by greenhouses, was officially unveiled on Sunday.

It forms part of the €350 million upgrade of the entire site which will also see the demolition of the Court 1 ‘bullring’ after the 2018 tournament.

Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, the 2016 champion, had the honor of opening proceedings against America’s Taylor Townsend and the 19th seed marked the occasion with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 win.

“It’s cute,” said the Spaniard. “It’s not small, but it’s, you know, cozy.”

Other winners on the first day included Japanese seventh seed Kei Nishikori, a quarterfinalist in 2015, who eased past France’s Quentin Halys 6-2, 6-3, 6-4.

However, Italian 16th seed Marco Cecchinato, the man who sent Novak Djokovic crashing out in the quarterfinals in 2018, fell at the first hurdle.

Cecchinato lost to 37-year-old Frenchman Nicolas Mahut —  who has slipped to 253 in the world — 2-6, 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.

Canada teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime withdrew from the tournament with a thigh injury, just a day after finishing runner-up to Benoit Paire in Lyon.

The 18-year-old was seeded 25 and had been due to face Australia’s Jordan Thompson in the first round on his maiden appearance in the main draw in Paris.

Auger-Aliassime’s spot in the first round draw has been taken by Spanish lucky loser Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Second seed Karolina Pliskova closed play on Chatrier with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Madison Brengle of the US.