It's the Madrid Masters final on Sunday, and after straight-set wins yesterday, Alexander Zverev and Matteo Berrettini meet this afternoon to decide who lifts the trophy. Dan Weston assesses the final...
"The Italian has now won eight matches in a row following a title in Belgrade a few weeks ago, and he's only dropped three sets in those matches."
Berrettini gives us an underdog semi-final winner
Alexander Zverev and Matteo Berrettini were deserved winners in their semi-finals yesterday, both winning 2-0 in sets and facing two and zero break point chances on their serves, respectively. Zverev overturned the recent head-to-head to get the better of Dominic Thiem, while Berrettini gave us an underdog winner from our recommendation yesterday as he defeated Casper Ruud - becoming the first player all week to break the Norwegian's serve, in what was still a pretty serve-orientated match.
Berrettini with edge on serve against Zverev
The duo have exhibited a rather different dynamic in their matches in Madrid in the past week. Berrettini has been dominant on serve, winning over 75% of service points, while Zverev has been excellent on return in quick conditions, winning 42% of return points.
It makes for a potential clash of styles this afternoon, and the challenge for Zverev will be to put consistent pressure on that Berrettini serve, which looks extremely strong.
In the last 12 months on clay, this dynamic also persists, with Zverev having a slight edge on return, but Berrettini winning around 4% more service points. If we extend to a 24 month surface sample, the differential is again pretty similar, and given this, I'm surprised to see Berrettini underdog at 2.6413/8 at the time of writing.
Market perhaps influenced by Zverev's victories against big-names
The Italian has now won eight matches in a row on clay following a title in Belgrade a few weeks ago, and he's only dropped three sets in those matches. While he was favourite or about even money in seven out of those eight wins, he's faced some pretty competent players on the surface to achieve that run of results.
Conversely, Zverev came into this event in mediocre form, having been beaten in the last hard court tournament in his opening match by Emil Ruusuvuori, and losing to David Goffin and Ilya Ivashka in clay events after a solitary victory in each tournament.
I can't help thinking that wins over Nadal and Thiem - both of whom would prefer slower clay conditions - have influenced the market with their current estimations of Zverev's level and in my view, Berrettini looks the value choice here at that underdog price.
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