Italy's Sonego to meet defending champion Djere in Cagliari final

Milan (AFP) –


Italy's Lorenzo Sonego staved off a fightback from second-seeded American Taylor Fritz and will meet defending champion Laslo Djere of Serbia in the final of the ATP tournament in Cagliari on Saturday.

Sonego was a set and 3-0 up in the semi-final clay-court clash before 23-year-old Fritz rallied but the third-seeded Italian dug deep in the third set to pull through 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 in two hours and 39 minutes.

Sonego will bid to become the first Italian to capture an ATP Tour title on home soil since Filippo Volandri at Palermo in October 2006.

The 23-year-old from Turin takes on clay-specialist Djere who kept his title defence on track by sweeping past fourth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 6-2, 6-0.

It will be a third ATP final for both.

Djere won his first two on clay in Rio in 2019 and Cagliari last year.

Sonego captured his first crown on grass at the 2019 Antalya Open, but lost on a hard court in Vienna last October.

In Saturday's semi-final, Sonego made the break in the fifth game but 32nd-ranked Fritz levelled for 4-4, in the fourth meeting between the pair.

The 34th-ranked Italian reeled off five straight games before the American reacted taking the second set after a 64 minute battle when Sonego netted a backhand.

But Sonego regained control with breaks for 5-0 in third, holding firm after a loss of serve to seal a berth in the final on his second match point.

"Compared to the first ATP final in Antalya I've gained great experiences around the world," said Sonego who reached the last-16 in Miami last month.

"I've been training with stronger players trying to steal the best things from them, I have also grown mentally.

"Now I try to relax a bit," added Sonego, who will also compete in the doubles final in Cagliari.

"In any case, I'll enjoy these matches. This tournament is played at home, a situation that is not so frequent, and I'm happy to have gone all the way."

Sonego and Djere are 1-1 in previous meetings with the Italian winning on clay in Marrakech in 2019 and the Serb on hard-court in Doha last year.

Djere, ranked 57, has achieved 51 of his 61 ATP wins on clay, beating Italian Marco Cecchinato in the final on the Mediterranean island last year.