Zverev clay-court horror show continues with Italian Open exit

ROME (AFP) – Germany’s Alexander Zverev crashed out of the Italian Open on Tuesday night with a 7-5, 7-5 loss to Italian wild card Matteo Berrettini in the second round.

“The match that I played was horrendous,” said Zverev after the game which took one hour 48 minutes on the red clay of the Foro Italico.

Zverev, the 2017 winner and runner-up in Rome last year to Novak Djokovic, has had a terrible start to the clay-court season with the French Open starting on May 26.

The 22-year-old lost his Madrid Open title last week, falling in the quarter-finals of both Madrid and Munich to Stefanos Tsitsipas and Cristian Garin respectively.

The German has yet to win a trophy this season and stands 4-6 on clay this spring.

Alexander Zverev returns the ball to Matteo Berrettini during their ATP Masters tournament tennis match at the Foro Italico in Rome. – AFP

Zverev had been seeded fourth in the final clay-court warm-up before Roland Garros, and was playing his first game having received a first-round bye.

Last year, Zverev reached the final in Rome beating Berrettini there in their only previous meeting.

But the 33rd-ranked Italian has been on form capturing his second ATP title on clay in Budapest last month, and reached the final in Munich.

Zverev started with a break in the second set, but lost this advantage immediately.

The 33rd-ranked Italian survived four break points, breaking the German in the 12th game to close 7-5 to the delight of the home crowd.

Berrettini will play Argentine Diego Schwartzman, who eased past Yoshihito Nishioka 6-1, 6-4 in 73 minutes.

Belgian David Goffin rallied from a set down to beat former French Open champion Stan Wawrinka in three sets and advance to the second round.

The 28-year-old Goffin won through 4-6, 6-0, 6-2 in one hour 55 minutes against the three-time Grand Slam winner to set up a meeting with Argentine seventh seed Juan Martin Del Potro for a place in the third round.