Berrettini Prevails On Home Soil In Bergamo
A LOOK BACK
Trofeo Perrel Faip (Bergamo, Italy): As good as Matteo Berrettini's breakthrough 2017 campaign was, his 2018 season looks to be even better. The 21-year-old Italian capped a strong two-month stretch with the title at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Bergamo on Sunday. He secured his second Challenger crown with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 win over countryman Stefano Napolitano in one hour and 53 minutes.
Both of Berrettini's titles have come on home soil, having also prevailed in San Benedetto last year. He joins Andreas Seppi (2008 & 2011) and Simone Bolelli as Italian winners in Bergamo. Now, up to a career-high of No. 104 in the ATP Rankings, the Top 100 is well within reach for the Rome native. Berrettini, who also notched his first ATP World Tour match win to open the season in Doha and appeared in his first Grand Slam at the Australian Open, is off to a combined 13-5 start to 2018.
"I started strong and I felt very good today," said Berrettini. "He struggled to get into the match, but I think it was due to the fact that I put a lot of pressure on him. Also, he did not have a large percentage of first serves in. It can make the difference against me. I just told myself to be aggressive. I had positive feelings and a lot of energy and I had to wait for my time. Fortunately, it arrived."
Shimadzu Kyoto Challenger (Kyoto, Japan): A comeback from injury often yields mixed results. How will the player adjust in his return to the tour, both physically and emotionally? John Millman is proving that his skin is thicker than most, cruising to his second ATP Challenger Tour title in four months in his return from groin surgery. The top seed in Kyoto, he defeated countryman Jordan Thompson 7-5, 6-1 for the crown. It was Millman's 10th at the Challenger level and second in the Japanese city, having also prevailed in 2013.
Millman makes his return to the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings after a tumultuous stretch that saw him fall out of the Top 200 early last year. Having made a successful comeback from a shoulder reconstruction in 2013, the Aussie is mastering yet another return from surgery. He will rise to No. 93 on Monday, his highest position in the ATP Rankings since January 2017.
Morelos Open Credito Real (Cuernavaca, Mexico): The Morelos Open crowned its fifth champion on Saturday, as American Dennis Novikov returned to the winners' circle behind a dominant display on the Mexican hard courts. Novikov dropped one set all week en route to his third ATP Challenger Tour crown and first since 2015. He downed Christian Garin 6-4, 6-3 in just 70 minutes to lift the trophy, turning aside nine of 10 break points faced. The San Jose, California native is the third American titlist of the year, joining Noah Rubin (Noumea) and Taylor Fritz (Newport Beach).
A LOOK AHEAD
A prelude to the BNP Paribas Open - the first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event of the year - the Challenger circuit makes its debut in Indian Wells. Marius Copil is the top seed, with local favourite Taylor Fritz seeded fourth and Delray Beach Open champion Frances Tiafoe looking continue his win streak.
Another inaugural tournament, in Punta del Este, Uruguay, marks the first clay-court event of the year. Serbia's Laslo Djere is the top seed. At the Keio Challenger in Yokohama, second seed and 2014 champion John Millman looks to go back-to-back on Japanese soil. Countryman Jordan Thompson leads the field.