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Berrettini handles challenge from Auger-Aliassime to capture Stuttgart

Berrettini handles challenge from Auger-Aliassime to capture Stuttgart

The Italian saved three set points in the second-set tiebreak before clinching the victory.

In his first ever grass-court final, Italy's Matteo Berrettini handled the challenge from Canadian teen Felix Auger-Aliassime, saving three set points to claim the Stuttgart Open, 6-4, 7-6 (11).

“On grass, the first tournament of the year [on this surface] beating these unbelievable guys… there were a lot of tough moments,” said Berrettini, who did not lose a set during his run, ousting second seed Karen Khachanov in the second round. “I never lost my serve, but all the matches were so close and I’m really happy for what I did on the court because it was mentally really difficult to stay there and I’m really proud of myself.”

Auger-Aliassime is now 3-0 in the finals, having failed to secure titles in the 2019 Rio Open and the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon. The 18-year-old had advanced to the Stuttgart final without playing on Saturday as compatriot Milos Raonic withdrew ahead of their semifinal due to back problems.

It has been a positive showing for Auger-Aliassime despite the devastating loss. Since losing in the qualifying round of the Australian Open, he has reached three ATP 250 finals, made his first Masters 1000 at the Miami Open, and has seen his ranking jump from 107 to 26.

Before Stuttgart, Berrettini had never made it to the semifinals of a grass-court tournament. On Sunday, he only needed one break to clinch the first set. At 6-5 in the second-set tiebreaker, Auger-Aliassime had the set on his racquet to force a decider but the Italian didn't crack under pressure as he turned the tiebreak around to stop the teen's efforts.

"You’re feeling good during the week, but you never know. I played great guys. This match was unbelievable. We had chances, a lot of set points for him, match points for me, so it was a really tough one," Berrettini said. "I’m really happy the way I fought during the week."