Berrettini, Kukushkin Target Irving Tennis Classic Title

Matteo Berrettini reaches the final of the Irving Tennis Classic (photo: Emmitt Barina)

IRVING, March 18, 2018

Matteo Berrettini and Mikhail Kukushkin will compete in Sunday’s singles final of the $150,000 Irving Tennis Classic held at the Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club at Las Colinas.

Berrettini knocked off the tournament’s No. 4 Marton Fucsovics of Hungary 6-3, 6-4 on Saturday afternoon. The #NextGenATP star from Italy sent down seven aces, winning 76 per cent of his first service points to advance in one hour and 24 minutes.

“I’m really happy because, first of all, I won today,” told Berrettini, who extended his ATP Challenger win streak to nine straight and 12-1 this year. By reaching the title match in Dallas County, the 21-year-old Rome native will break into the Top 100 of the ATP rankings on Monday.

“I think I’m living a great period. I lost a tough match in Indian Wells but I played a great match against Medvedev – he’s [ranked] 50, so it was an unbelievable experience. It was my first time in Indian Wells, and first time here, and I’m in the finals, so I think it’s a good period and I’ll try my best tomorrow…I like it here, it’s a really good organization, we’re staying in an unbelievable hotel…here the staff and all the organization is great and I’m feeling really good. It’s not usual to find in a Challenger tour, and I’m really enjoying it.” 

Later in the day, Mikhail Kukushkin upset No. 3 seed Steve Johnson 6-4, 7-6. The 30-year-old from Kazakhstan saved seven of the eight break points he faced, capitalizing on two of his own chances to prevail after one hour and 52 minutes.

Kukushkin got into the final in Irving for the second time in a row. The World No. 89 fell to Aljaz Bedene in last year’s title match. Kukushkin is eyeing a 14th ATP Challenger crown, his first since 2016. Berrettini could lift his third career trophy, his second of the season following his triumph on home soil in Bergamo last month. The pair will meet for the first time.

Albot/Ebden Book Doubles Final Spot

Earlier in the day, Radu Albot of Moldova and Australian Matthew Ebden rallied past the all-US-American combination of Nicholas Monroe and Jackson Witthrow 1-6, 6-2, 11-9 to reach the doubles final. The encounter lasted 61 minutes.

“Lots of pressure points. I hope it’s better to watch for everybody, it makes it quite exciting. Yeah, we’ll come out and try to do even better tomorrow,” Ebden told on winning the tie-break of the final set. The tandem will face Philipp Petzschner of Germany and Austria’s Alexander Peya for the title.