Matteo Berrettini storms past Rudd to earn Italy place in City Finals

The Italian team will face either Poland or Switzerland in the City Finals on Wednesday
Matteo Berrettini
Matteo BerrettiniReuters

BRISBANE: Ace tennis star Matteo Berrettini sailed past Casper Ruud to help Italy clinch the top spot in Group E of the United Cup in Brisbane on Tuesday.

Berrettini got the better of World No 3 in a much-anticipated match, winning it 6-4, 6-4 in straight sets to seal Italy's victory over Norway and take a commanding 3-0 lead.

The Italian team will face either Poland or Switzerland in the City Finals on Wednesday.

"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. 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, and maybe a little bit more stressful. But we're enjoying [it] a lot," said Berrettini as quoted by ATPTour.com. Ruud beat Berrettini in 2022, winning five straight sets against the Italian in the Gstaad final and the quarterfinals of the US Open.

But inside Pat Rafter Arena, the big-serving Rome native started off well and eventually stormed past the Norwegian.

Ruud has made significant strides on hard courts, where he last year in Miami advanced to an ATP Masters 1000 final and the Nitto ATP Finals championship match.

However, Berrettini played assertively in Brisbane's sweltering conditions, particularly with his forehand, keeping the Norwegian on the defensive the entire time. "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. 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," said Berrettini.

At 2-3 in the first set, Berrettini faced two break points, which proved to be a turning point in the game. Ruud, a nine-time ATP Tour champion, may have gained momentum if he had won the point.

The Italian, to the joy of the crowd's Italian supporters, delivered booming serves, but he was unable to put a return in the court on either opportunity.

In the game, Berrettini did not encounter another break point. With a victory over Brazilian Thiago Monteiro, the World No. 16 improved to 2-0 on the year. He blasted 10 aces and won 88 percent of his first-serve points (35/40%). Ulrikke Eikeri was defeated by Lucia in a one-hour, 48-minute battle after following Berretini's example.

The victory over Laura Pigossi of Brazil extended the Italian's record to 2-0 for the year. Bronzetti appeared to be in for a comfortable day at work when he led 6-2 and 4-2, but Eikeri staged a comeback and was given the chance to serve for the second set at 5-4.

But the 24-year-old Italian rapidly overcame her annoyance to win in straight sets by winning the final two games.

In the mixed doubles, Camilla Rosatello and Lorenzo Musetti defeated Eikeri and Viktor Durasovic 7-6(6), 6-2 to complete a 5-0 demolition of Norway. In the City Finals on Wednesday, Italy will take against either Poland or Switzerland.

A thrilling conclusion to the match will take place later tonight with Poland and Switzerland tied at one point going into the final day of group play. Hubert Hurkacz will compete against Stan Wawrinka for Poland, and Magda Linette will compete against Jil Teichmann.

Iga Swiatek and Hurkacz will take on Belinda Bencic and Wawrinka in the mixed doubles match if the match is still tied at 2-2 after singles.

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