Berrettini beats Ruud to advance Italy at United Cup

SYDNEY — Matteo Berrettini beat world No. 3 Casper Ruud 6-4, 6-4 to lead Italy past Norway and into the Brisbane City Final of the United Cup.

Berrettini’s win gave Italy and unassailable 3-0 lead over Norway and ensured it will finish atop Group E at the mixed teams tournament and will face either Poland or Switzerland.

Ruud had twice beaten Berrettini in 2022, in the final at Gstaad and in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open, winning five straight sets against the Italian. Berrettini turned the tables at the Pat Rafter Arena, coming out strong and winning the match in 1 hour, 26 minutes.

“The goal is to have the longest run possible,” Berrettini said. “It’s super nice to play with my teammates. We know each other since a really young age. It’s crazy and now we’re representing Italy. It’s such an honor for us.”

Ruud showed good form on hard courts in 2022, reaching an ATP 1000 final and the championship match at the ATP Finals. But Berrettini was the more aggressive player in hot conditions in Brisbane.

Berrettini faced two break points at 2-3 in the first set and if Ruud had converted, he might have taken control of the match. But the Norwegian wasn’t able to put a return in court on either point as Berrettini met the challenge with two booming services. He finished with 10 aces and won 88% of first serve points.

“Casper, he’s a super-solid player,” Berrettini said. “He improved so much in the past year so I knew that I had to serve my best.”

In Perth, Maria Sakkari earned Greece a Perth City Final place with a 6-1, 7-5 defeat of Belgium’s Elise Mertens.

Greece required only two points from the final tie of Group A to advance and Sakkari’s win backed up compatriot Stefanos Tsitsipas’ defeat of David Goffin.

“It was a very solid match from my side,” Sakkari said. “Obviously I was nervous in the beginning because I knew my match was crucial, but I managed to play a good game, even though in some moments it wasn’t pretty. I’m very happy I was able to get us through the group stages.”

In Sydney, the United States completed a 5-0 win over Germany with wins by Jessica Pegula against Laura Siegemund and Frances Tiafoe over Oscar Otte. Pegula and Taylor Fritz then combined to beat Julia Lohoff and Fabian Fallert in the mixed doubles as the United States topped Group C.

The U.S. will play Britain in the Sydney City Final.

Berrettini beats Ruud to advance Italy at United Cup originally appeared on NBCSports.com