(Reuters) - Alexander Zverev underlined his credentials as a French Open title contender with a battling 6-7(8) 6-4 6-3 victory over Italian Matteo Berrettini to claim his fourth Masters 1,000 crown and second Madrid Open title.
Germany's Zverev, conqueror of claycourt specialists Rafa Nadal and Dominic Thiem en route to the final, dropped his first set of the tournament. However, he fought back under a closed roof at the Manolo Santana stadium to lift his first claycourt title since 2019.
Berrettini showed no sign of nerves in his maiden ATP 1000 final and landed the first blow, taking a see-sawing opening set in a tie-break, where he initially let slip a 5-0 advantage and then saved a set point.
But Zverev, who was champion in Madrid in 2018, hit back strongly in the second set, breaking the 25-year-old Italian in the ninth game to force a decider.
The Italian squandered a break point at 2-2 in the final set and then proceeded to drop his own serve as Zverev inched closer to victory.
The fifth seeded German did not let up and another break confirmed the win in two hours and 40 minutes.
Zverev will shift his focus to Rome next week before continuing his pursuit of a maiden Grand Slam title at Roland Garros, where he has never been beyond the quarter-finals.
(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)