Zverev knocks off home hope Darderi

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Alexander Zverev resumed his impressive run in the early stages of this year's ATP Masters 1000s with a 7-6(3), 6-2 victory against Luciano Darderi of Italy on Sunday night at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia.  

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The third-seeded German has already reached the round of 16 in all five Masters 1000s played in 2024, with four more events remaining.  

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Zverev saved the one break point he faced against the local favorite in Rome, battling through four deuces to hold for 5-2 in the second set before breaking at love to seal the victory.   

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After an hour and 48 minutes of play against the 22-year-old Darderi, the highest-ranked Italian left in the singles draw, Zverev was reminded of another player from the home country.  

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"The guy is serving 225 [km/h] and hitting the forehand as hard as Berrettini sometimes, so he reminded me of him a little bit," the German remarked following the pair's maiden Lexus ATP Head2Head match.  

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"I felt the contest went well. I felt I moved around the court nicely. I missed a few more shots than I wanted to, but that's part of the game, and I'm thrilled with the victory." 

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The third-ranked player in the PIF ATP Rankings will next face Nuno Borges of Portugal, who defeated Italy's Francesco Passaro 4-6, 7-6(8), 7-6(4) earlier on Sunday.  

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Zhang Zhizhen of China also won on Sunday evening, defeating 12th seed Ben Shelton 6-2,6-4. Zhang, 27, maintained his run after becoming the first Chinese man to make it to the third round in Rome.  

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After winning his sixth Top 20 title, his first since defeating Hubert Hurkacz in Tokyo in 2023, he advanced to the fourth round of an ATP Masters 1000 for the fourth time.    

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Zhang's next opponent will be Brazilian qualifier Thiago Monteiro. Monteiro, like Borges, averted a match point in his third-round victory over Miomir Kecmanovic, which was 6-2, 4-6, 7-6(6).   

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