Zverev clay-court horror show continues with Italian Open exit

Italy’s Matteo Berrettini after winning a point to Alexander Zverev of Germany at the Italian Open in Rome on Tuesday. (AP)
Updated 15 May 2019

Zverev clay-court horror show continues with Italian Open exit

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

ROME: Germany’s Alexander Zverev crashed out of the Italian Open on Tuesday 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 1hr 48min 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 quarterfinals 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.
Zverev had been seeded fourth in the final clay-court warmup 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 1hr 55min 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.
Ninth seed Marin Cilic beat Italian wild card Andrea Basso 6-1, 7-5 as Australian Nick Kyrgios needed three sets to get past Russian 12th seed Daniil Medvedev.
“I knew it was going to be tough today because I haven’t played much on clay,” said Kyrgios, who next plays Norwegian qualifier Casper Ruud.
Portgual’s Joao Sousa saved four match points in the deciding set to battle past American Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/4).
Sousa, who also trailed 1/4 in the deciding set tie-break, will play third seed Roger Federer in the second round.
Eight time Rome winner Rafael Nadal will open his tournament against Jeremy Chardy in the second round after the Frenchman beat compatriot Richard Gasquet 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 in a match suspended overnight on Monday.


Neymar future remains up in the air as PSG reject Madrid offer

Updated 23 August 2019

Neymar future remains up in the air as PSG reject Madrid offer

  • Paris club said to turn down an offer from Barcelona of €40 million plus Coutinho and Rakitic

PARIS: Neymar remains no closer to getting his desired move away from Paris Saint-Germain amid reports Thursday the French club have rejected an offer from Real Madrid of €100 million($111 million) plus players.

French sports daily L’Equipe said Real had offered cash plus Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and goalkeeper Keylor Navas, but PSG turned it down because “the overall value of the offer did not match their expectations.” 

Paris paid €222 million to sign Neymar from Barcelona two years ago and their sporting director Leonardo is understood to be determined to only sell the forward for a deal considered to be of the same value.

Real have spent the summer trying to offload Bale, while James is unwanted after returning from a loan at Bayern Munich and Navas is no longer the club’s first-choice goalkeeper.

Meanwhile, Barcelona remain hopeful of bringing Neymar back to the Camp Nou, but Catalan daily Sport claims an attempt to sign the player on loan with an obligation to buy for €160 million at the end of the season has been firmly rejected in Paris.

Sport claims Barcelona feel “it is very clear that PSG are trying to prevent the Brazilian from returning to the Camp Nou in any scenario.” 

PSG had previously reportedly turned down an offer from Barcelona of €40 million  plus Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Rakitic. Coutinho has since joined Bayern on loan.

Juventus are also believed to have stated an interest in signing the 27-year-old, who has not featured in any of PSG’s matches so far this season having been frozen out amid the uncertainty over his future. The transfer window closes in France, Spain and Italy on Sept. 2, meaning time is fast running out for a deal to be done.

Watford loan Sweden winger Sema to Udinese

Watford winger Ken Sema has completed a season-long loan move to Udinese, the Serie A side confirmed on Thursday.

The six-times capped Sweden international only moved to Vicarage Road last summer from Ostersunds FK and made 22 appearances for the English club.

The 25-year-old's departure follows the arrival of Senegal international Ismaila Sarr to the Premier League outfit on a club record transfer of €35 million   ($38 million) from Rennes. The northeastern Italian club and Watford are both owned by the Pozzo family.

Udinese host AC Milan in their opening match of the Serie A season on Saturday.