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Four Former Swiss Open Champions Remain Alive In Gstaad

GSTAAD/WASHINGTON, July 22, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

when Matteo Berrettini made his return to the ATP Tour in Gstaad on Thursday, beating Richard Gasket in straight sets to reach the quarterfinals of the EFG Swiss Open on clay, it was just his first match in a month after triumphing at Queen’s Club in London on grass.

Sadly, the 26-year-old Italian from Rome was forced to miss the recent Wimbledon Championships after testing positive for COVID-19. Earlier in the season, he was sidelined during the European clay season due to a right hand injury.

Now that Berrettini is healthy, his 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1, victory over No. 5 seed Peter Martinez of Spain Friday, in just his fourth match on clay and in his second clay-court event of the season, sent the World No. 15 through to his fourth overall semifinal of 2022. That’s a sign of consistency – even, if for a while , it looked as if Berrettini would bow to the Spaniard in straight sets.

Against Martinez, Berrettini stared defeat in the face, trailing 1-5 in a second-set tie-break after dropping the opening set. However, he reeled off six straight points – each one more dramatic than the previous one – and clinched the set to force a decider. Then, Berrettini made quick work of the third set and won the quarterfinal match after two hours and 16 minutes on Roy Emerson Arena. The victory was much to the delight – and relief – of Berrettini and the many Italian fans, who packed the cozy center court.

“Sometimes, it’s just tennis,” Berrettini theorized during his on-court interview. “It is a crazy sport. At 1-5, I thought I was done. Then, I played two good points and it was 3-5 and I thought ‘let’s try.’

“I don’t think I played my best match here. But sometimes, it is important to win when you are not playing well. I managed to find some energy inside me and I am really happy to be through.”

After Thursday’s win against Gasquet, Berrettini stressed the importance of being patient. “I served well, but I can serve better. I was calm, I was ready when the points were important. … I also know I need to play matches,” he said.

Coming back to Gstaad has brought fond memories for Berrettini, who won his first ATP Tour title in the Swiss Alps town in 2018 by defeating Spain’s Roberto Baustista Agut in straight sets. Now, with his latest win from him, he’s undefeated through seven career matches in Gstaad.

“I have great memories here,” Berrettini said on Thursday. “My first ATP Tour title. I really like these conditions. Even though I was coming from grass – and this is the complete opposite – I like when the ball is jumping like this. I think it suits my game and my serve.”

Like he did against Gasquet, Berrettini dominated Martinez with his serve, hitting 15 aces and winning 83 percent of his first-serve points. He was the player who was in control in key moments. In the end, Berrettini outpointed Martinez 96-91.

Looking ahead, in Saturday’s semifinal round, Berrettini will play 274th-ranked Dominic Thiem of Austria, who overcame 115th-ranked qualifier John Paul Varillas of Peru, 6-4, 6-3 to reach his first tour-level semifinal of the season.

Thiem, who strung together back-to-back victories to reach his second straight quarterfinal on red clay, dominated the Peruvian by dictating many baseline rallies during their one-hour and 47-minute first-time meeting.

“I played a good match yesterday and I was able to back it up today,” Thiem, 28, said during his on-court interview following his third victory of the tournament. “Some things, I didn’t like that much. I failed to serve out at [5-2], but it was also the nerves a little bit because it is my first semifinal in one and-a-half years. I need the points to go back up the rankings. I was happy I was able to break the nerves.”

With Thiem’s ​​strong run to the semi-finals in Gstaad, he’s up to No. 195 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. The former World No. 3 is attempting to win the Swiss Open for the second time after garnering the title in 2015.

Ruud provides a rude awakening for Munar

defending champion Casper Ruud continued his unbeaten streak in Gstaad – and throughout Switzerland – following his 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4) victory over No. 63 James Munar of Spain in two hours and 18 minutes.

Ruud saved two set points on serve at 4-5 in the second set before maintaining calm in the tie-break to beat Munar for the second time in two tries. The World No. 5 from Norway won 78 percent of his first-serve points and outpointed Munar 95-83.

The victory, which was Ruud’s 23rd of the season on clay, moved him to within two wins of retaining his Swiss Open title as well as capturing his third crowd of the season following title runs in Buenos Aires and Geneva, both on clay.

Ruud’s sixth consecutive Gstaad win – and his 14th in Switzerland, which includes back-to-back title triumphs in Geneva – advanced him to face No. 4 seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain, who saved a match point during a third-set tie-break and beat 118th-ranked Chilean qualifier Nicholas Jerry7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (8), in two hours and 50 minutes.

It was the 17th win on clay this season for Ramos-Vinolas, who saved match point at 7-8 during the third-set tie-break. He later won on his third match-point opportunity. The victory improved his win-loss record in quarterfinal matches this season to 4-0. Ramos-Vinolas won the Swiss Open in 2019.

Around the EFG Swiss Open

Tomislav Brkic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Francis Cabral of Portugal reached the doubles semifinals with a 7-6 (3), 6-3 win over André Goransson of Sweden and Ben McLachlan ofJapan. Next, they will face Franko Skugor of Croatia and Fabrice Martin ofFrance.

• The other Friday doubles quarterfinal match was won by robin haase of the Netherlands and Philip Oswald of Austria, who defeated Spanish duo Peter Martinez and James Munar, 6-1, 6-3. Both Martinez and Munar had lost their respective singles quarterfinal matches earlier in the day. Next, Haase and Oswald will oppose Andrea Vassori and Lorenzo Sonegoboth of Italy.

Friday’s EFG Swiss Open results

Saturday’s EFG Swiss Open order of play

By the numbers

Matteo Berrettini entered Friday’s play on a 10-match winning streak, which includes titles won in Stuttgart and Queen’s Club in London, both on grass. His last loss from him was to Miomir Kecmanovic in the fourth round at Indian Wells in March. Although injury and illness has limited him to just 26 matches (20 wins 6 losses), he’s through to his fourth semifinal of the 2022 season.

“Quotable…”

“Tomorrow I can go into the match free, trying to do my best. When I traveled to Bastad last week I didn’t expect to reach the quarterfinals there and then the semifinals here. It is really, really good and I am happy with the progress.”

Dominic Thiem of Austria, during his on-court interview in looking ahead to his semifinal against Matteo Berrettini.

“Dominic has had an unbelievable career. He is a Slam champion and he got injured, but he is coming back. I saw some of him today and his level of him is coming back. So, it is going to be a tough match. We always play great matches. So, tomorrow will be a good one.”

– No. 2 seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy, during his on-court interview Friday looking ahead to Saturday’s semifinal match against Dominic Thiem.

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