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Matteo Berrettini has contested five of his six ATP Tour finals on clay.

Berrettini: ‘This Loss Is Going To Be Useful’

Italian owns an 8-2 record on clay this year

Matteo Berrettini was unable to extend his eight-match winning streak and lift the biggest trophy of his career at the Mutua Madrid Open on Sunday, but he believes his loss in the final against Alexander Zverev will benefit him in the future.

The eighth seed was one set from victory after clinching an 18-point first-set tie-break in dramatic fashion, but Zverev fought back and claimed three service breaks in the next two sets to win his second Madrid title and improve his record in the Spanish capital to 15-2. Berrettini, who was making his tournament debut in Madrid this week, is the only player to take a set off Zverev during the German’s two title runs at La Caja Magica.

“[To reach my first Masters 1000 final is an] unbelievable feeling. I'm really proud of myself [and] the work I've done, not just in the past months, but in my career so far,” Berrettini said. “I wasn't one of the guys at 18, 19 or 20 [who] was thinking about these kinds of achievements. I really worked hard to be here.

“Now that I'm here, I'm upset I lost. It's important for my tennis, for my level… Sascha won, not easily, but in two sets against Thiem and Rafa, and today [he] was struggling against me. This is definitely a good feeling and something that I have to use, to build [on] in my next tournaments. It hurts now, but I know this loss is going to be useful.”

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Following the match, Berrettini spoke with his team about his performance. The Italian was disappointed that he was unable to convert the first break point of the deciding set at 2-1, when Zverev escaped danger with a powerful serve and forehand combination, but he does not believe that he made any errors in his pursuit to join 2019 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters champion Fabio Fognini as only the second Italian Masters 1000 titlist.

Italians are 0-2 in Masters 1000 finals this season. Jannik Sinner also finished as a runner-up at last month’s Miami Open presented by Itau (l. to Hurkacz).

“[My team and I were] all upset. Obviously, I'm the most upset one,” Berrettini said. “I had a break point in the third [set]. I think he played really good. I returned a serve that was going 220[km/h] something. This is just tennis.

“I actually felt that in the first set, even though I was up a break, I wasn't playing my best tennis. I was playing really good [at] the beginning of the second [set] and I couldn't get the break… In the third [set], it was a fight. [I have] no regrets at all. I left it all [on the court].”

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Berrettini is keen to replicate his level in Madrid at the biggest events in the sport. The 25-year-old will have an opportunity to do just that next week, when he returns to his hometown event: the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome.

Berrettini will be making his fifth straight appearance at the Foro Italico, where he reached the quarter-finals last year (l. to Ruud). The four-time ATP Tour titlist will open his title bid against Munich champion Nikoloz Basilashvili.

“My goals are to play big and good in the big tournaments: [the] Grand Slams and Masters 1000s," Berrettini said. "Obviously, [it] was a great win and great run also in Belgrade. We all know when you're Top 10, when you reach a certain level, you want to win the big tournaments. This was my first final [at this level]. Hopefully, it's not going to be my last.”