The 2021 Mutua Madrid Open will have a young debutant as a finalist. In his first participation in the men’s main draw, Matteo Berrettini overcame Norwegian player Casper Ruud 6-4, 6-4 in 1 hour and 21 minutes to seal his passage to the final, where he will face German player Alexander Zverev. Without dropping a serve in his semi-final clash, the Italian made a convincing case for one final victory at the Masters 1000 in Madrid. “My coach told me that he believed in me that those kinds of things really help”, he told the media.
No sooner had he finished his match in the Manolo Santana Stadium, and in perfect Spanish, Berrettini said that the altitude and court conditions were a key factor in beating his opponent. Regarding the fans, the tournament’s second finalist said that “it is incredible to have people here now” and he hoped that the centre court would have even more fans in the stands during his match tomorrow with Zverev. After overcoming an injury that meant he could not compete for two months earlier this year, the player from Rome has “worked hard” to come back stronger than ever.
During the first set, in which both players were very solid on their serve, it was the small details that made the difference. On the first chance he had, Berrettini broke Casper Ruud’s serve, the first time anyone had done so in the whole tournament, before consolidating the 6-4 in the next game. Berrettini told the press later that “my service return was very good”. Just as he did the third and last time the players met -quarter-finals at the Rome Masters 1000 in 2020-, the Italian took a 1-0 lead.
Based on an unbreakable serve and his powerful forehand, Berrettini did the same in the second set to seal his ticket to the Mutua Madrid Open final. “The key today was putting pressure on his serve and attacking it. I tried to do that and I think it worked pretty well”, said the Italian in his post-semifinal press conference. But the 6-3 that earned Berrettini victory not only allowed him to beat Ruud for the first time on clay, it also takes him to his first final in a Masters 1000 tournament having bowed out in the semis in Shanghai in 2019.
Only one match now separates Matteo Berrettini from his first Masters 1000 title and, as he said in his press conference “it’s a very good feeling”. But this will not be the first final the Italian has experienced; the Rome native played in the ATP Cup final and has played several at ATP 250 tournaments throughout his career, prompting the ATP ranked No. 10 to say that “when you go to play, in the end you simply think it’s a final”. The second finalist at the 2021 Mutua Madrid Open already knows what it is to beat Alexander Zverev on clay, but he is still in no doubt that “it’s going to be a difficult match”.