Two giants have reached the final in Madrid, but their routes to the final are as different as possible. The Italian faced compatriot Fabio Fognini in the first round and Argentinian Delbonis in the second, beating both in straight sets. His first seeded opponent was Cristian Garin, who gave him a tough time in the first set and the beginning of the second before Berrettini reeled off 11 games in the row to reduce the contest to a one-sided affair. Berrettini then met Ruud in the semis, a tough youngster on his career high who beat Tsitsipas earlier in the tournament. Berrettini’s red-hot serve + forehand carried him through to a comfortable win, where he faced no break points.
On paper, Zverev’s draw was a lot more difficult. His first opponent was veteran Kei Nishikori, who took a 6-2 set off of Nadal in Barcelona. However, he demolished the Japanese and set the tone for the rest of the tournament from there. He recorded another straight sets win against the gritty Dan Evans to set a match with the God of Clay, Rafael Nadal. The German snatched back 2 breaks and the lead from the Spaniard in the first set, and Nadal had no answers to Zverev’s game after that point. Zverev then faced down Dominic Thiem in what proved to be arguably his most complete performance of the match, which concluded in another straight sets victory.
With two gargantuans playing at the top of their level, this match will likely come down to who can stick to their patterns the longest, and who’s mental game is the strongest.
This will be a mouthwatering clash between two youngsters on the backs of unpredictable upsets. Casper Ruud took out the number 4 seed and Monte Carlo Champion Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets with an incredible display of consistent baseline tennis. He showed his mental by seizing the only break point between the Greek and himself to take what would be a deciding second set. Bublik took out the unseeded but equally dangerous Aslan Karatsev with acute variety and his own devastating backhand. The winner of this match will be the one who can capitalize the most on their strengths.
This is a meeting between two players who haven’t fought at the top level in nearly four years, mainly due to Nishikori’s injury-related issues. With that being said, Nishikori has been improving his game in recent weeks, with a strong pair of victories in Barcelona before falling to the eventual winner Rafael Nadal. The same can’t be said for Zverev, who hasn’t made it past the second round in three tournaments. However, Zverev’s strong groundstrokes combined with Nishikori’s high-risk high-reward style of play will surely result in an epic contest to watch.