World no. 10 Matteo Berrettini claimed his first ATP title in almost two years and fourth overall at the Serbia Open in Belgrade, beating Aslan Karatsev 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 in two hours and 27 minutes. Struggling with injuries, Berrettini couldn't play his best tennis in the last year following a breakthrough run in 2019, winning only nine matches and already improving that in this season's opening four months after scoring 12 triumphs in 15 encounters.
Thanks to the opening set and the decisive tie break, Matteo won 20 points more than Aslan, although he had to give his best to overpower the opponent who crashed Novak Djokovic on Saturday after three and a half hours! Matteo lost serve twice and produced three breaks, playing better when it mattered the most to lift the first trophy since Stuttgart in June 2019.
Matteo Berretini won the fourth ATP title in Belgrade, the first in two years.
The Italian played on a very high level in the opener, sailing through his service games and earning two breaks for a commanding 6-1. Berrettini lost two points on serve in the opening two service games and scored a break when Karatsev sprayed a forehand error in game four to open a 3-1 gap.
The better-ranked player confirmed the break with a hold at 15 and moved 5-1 up when the Russian netted a backhand in game six. Matteo blasted an ace in the seventh game to seal the set in no time, hoping for more of the same in set number two.
Aslan raised his level in set number two, forged an early lead and saved two break points in the only loose service game for 6-3. The Australian Open semi-finalist scored a break in game two and fired a service winner at 5-3 to secure the set and force a decider.
There, Berrettini forged a 3-1 advantage before Karatsev pulled it back immediately with a backhand crosscourt winner. After six good holds on both sides, Aslan served to stay in the match at 5-6 and faced a match point, fending it off with a service winner to bring the deciding tie break.
However, his efforts were in vain as Matteo claimed the tie break 7-0 to celebrate a much-needed title, the third on clay.