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United Cup: Berrettini powers past Ruud, sends Italy to Brisbane City Final

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United Cup: Berrettini powers past Ruud, sends Italy to Brisbane City Final

Brisbane, Jan 3 (Ajit Weekly News) Italy is through to the Brisbane City Final at the United Cup after Matteo Berrettini guaranteed his country’s place atop Group E on Tuesday morning.

Berrettini won a heavyweight clash against World No. 3 Casper Ruud 6-4, 6-4 to clinch Italy’s tie victory against Norway, earning an insurmountable 3-0 lead. Italy will face Poland or Switzerland in the City Final on Wednesday, reports unitedcup.com.

“The goal is to have the longest run possible. It’s super nice to play with my teammates. We know each other since a really young age. It’s crazy and now we’re representing Italy. It’s such an honour for us,” Berrettini said. “The other day at dinner we were talking about when we were 12 playing against each other. It’s super nice and I’m really happy. It’s the first time obviously playing with the girls and I think it’s special, different, maybe a little bit more stressful. But we’re enjoying (it) a lot.”

In 2022, Ruud defeated Berrettini in the Gstaad final and the US Open quarter-finals, claiming five consecutive sets against the Italian. But the big-serving Rome-native came out firing inside Pat Rafter Arena and powered past the Norwegian after one hour and 26 minutes.

Ruud has shown much improvement on hard courts, reaching an ATP Masters 1000 final on the surface last year in Miami and advancing to the championship match of the Nitto ATP Finals. But Berrettini played aggressively in hot conditions in Brisbane, especially with his forehand, keeping the Norwegian on the back foot throughout.

“Casper, he’s a super-solid player, he improved so much in the past year. So I knew that I had to serve my best,” Berrettini said. “We know each other pretty well, so we’re kind of always studying what we’re doing and I knew that I had to serve like that. One thing is knowing and one thing is doing it, but I’m really glad it worked out pretty well and happy.”

The pivotal moment in the match came with Berrettini facing two break points at 2-3 in the first set. If Ruud converted, the nine-time ATP Tour titlist might have seized the momentum. But he was unable to put a return in the court on either chance, with the Italian delivering booming serves to the delight of the Italian fans in the crowd. Berrettini did not face another break point in the match.

The World No. 16 hit 10 aces and won 88 per cent of his first-serve points (35/40) to move to 2-0 on the season having also defeated Brazilian Thiago Monteiro.

Lucia followed Berretini’s lead to hold off Ulrikke Eikeri in a one-hour-and-48-minute duel. The Italian improved to 2-0 on the season, having defeated Brazil’s Laura Pigossi in her season debut.

World No. 54 Bronzetti looked primed for a smooth day at the office, leading 6-2, 4-2 before Eikeri mounted a comeback and earned an opportunity to serve for the second set at 5-4. But the 24-year-old Italian quickly set aside her frustration to reel off the final two games and win in straight sets.

Italy will face either Poland or Switzerland in Wednesday’s City Finals. Poland and Switzerland go into the final day of group play locked at 1-1, setting up an exciting final stage of the tie later tonight. Poland will pit Hubert Hurkacz against Stan Wawrinka, while Magda Linette will face Jil Teichmann.

If the tie is locked at 2-2 after singles, the group winner will be determined by mixed doubles, where Iga Swiatek and Hurkacz are slated to face Belinda Bencic and Wawrinka.

–Ajit Weekly News

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News Credits – I A N S

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