The young guns in men's tennis are definitely making a move and that is exciting for the sport. The Madrid Open became the fourth consecutive ATP Masters 1000 where the finalists were a pair of past or present NextGen players.
Alexander Zverev, who played his second of those finals, rallied back to defeat Matteo Berrettini in two hours 40 minutes to capture the championship for the second time, his first since 2018. The 24-year-old German closed out the title, his fourth at a prestigious Masters 1000, and his 15th career title, 6-7(8), 6-4 6-3.
"I think it was a good week for me. I mean, obviously Matteo was extremely difficult for me in a way that I didn't play anybody who serves 235, dominates the ball like he does," Zverev said. "Against Rafa (Nadal) and Dominic (Thiem), the matches were different. I mean, both obviously great players on clay, maybe the two best players right now.
"Yeah, against Matteo was extremely difficult just getting the ball back in play, getting the ball deep enough to have the chance to win the point. Yeah, coming back from a set down to win the title here, I'm extremely happy with that."
Certainly, this is an important win for Zverev and his confidence. He now owns a 15-2 win-loss record in Madrid. It's only the second time in his career that he has beaten three top ten players in a single event, and he did it in back-to-back rounds starting with Nadal in the quarters - the last time he beat three top tenners was at the 2018 ATP Finals in London.
"It's extremely important. I think the clay court season, also to do well at the French Open, you need to be playing well during the clay court season. That is in a way important for me, as well," Zverev said. "(But) at the end of the day I won a Masters. There's really very little in terms of bigger than this one right here. I'm happy. I'm happy with this achievement.
"Obviously, yeah, I look forward to the next few weeks. I look forward to what's ahead, and yeah, I mean, the altitude, of course, plays a role in the match. I think Matteo will say the same. I think the altitude is helpful to some players, not helpful to others. I must be feeling okay here."
Reaching the Madrid final is a huge step in Berrettini's young career as it marked his first time in a 1000 final. It is one of the biggest results alongside his run to the US Open semis in 2019.
The 25-year-old highlights the strength of Italian men's tennis at the moment. Interestingly, it has taken 264 events and nearly 30 years for an Italian to reach an ATP Masters 1000 final and now there have been three as Matteo joins Fabio Fognini who won the 2019 Rolex Monte Carlo Masters and Jannik Sinner the Miami Open finalist from a few weeks ago.
"It's unbelievable feeling; I'm really proud of myself, the work I've done just not in the last months but in my career so far," Berrettini said. "I wasn't one of the guys at 18, 19 or 20 was thinking about reaching this kind of achievements and stuff. I really work hard to be here.
"Now that I'm here, I'm upset I lost. It's important for my tennis, for my level. I mean, Sascha won not easy but like in two sets against Thiem and Rafa, and today was struggling against me. This is definitely a good feeling and something that I have to use to build in my future tournaments, next tournaments.
"It hurts now, but I know this loss is going to be useful."
The doubles title was claimed by third seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos, they defeated second seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic 1-6, 6-3, 10/8