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Berrettini edges Karatsev to win Belgrade title

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BELGRADE: Italy’s Matteo Berrettini won his fourth career title on Sunday defeating Aslan Karatsev, who had stunned Novak Djokovic in the semifinals, in the Belgrade clay court final.


The 25-year-old Berrettini, the world number 10, triumphed 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (7/0) over the Russian who was seeking his second title of 2021 after winning in Dubai.


Berrettini won previous titles at Gstaad in 2018 and Stuttgart and Budapest, both in 2019.


On Saturday, the 28th-ranked Karatsev had knocked out world number one Djokovic in the semifinal, saving 23 of 28 break points.


“This title is for my family, this is the first time that they are actually here to see me win the trophy even though it’s my fourth one,” Berrettini said at the trophy ceremony.


“So this is a special one. We came a long way since I was a kid and they were bringing me everywhere, so I think they deserve to see this kind of tennis and this kind of level. I really love them.”


Berrettini was playing in just his second tournament since the Australian Open after an abdominal strain kept him off the courts. Last week, he bowed out in his opening match at the Monte Carlo Masters.


“It’s been a pleasure being here. I came here not with the best feelings. I came back from an injury, and it’s never easy to come back and play this kind of level, this kind of tennis,” said the champion.


Karatsev admitted he paid a heavy price for his Djokovic heroics.


“I was perhaps missing some energy but he played very well,” said the Russian. — AFP


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