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Seventeen-year-old Italian wildcard Jannik Sinner got his ATP Masters career off to the best possible start when he recorded a shock 1-6 6-1 7-5 victory over Steve Johnson in the first round at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia.
The world No. 262 saved a match point and battled back from 2-5 down in the final set to defeat the experienced American in front of a boisterous crowd on Court Centrale. It was the teenager’s second ATP career victory and his first at ATP Masters 1000 level and sets up a second round clash with Madrid runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Sinner was not the only Italian to win on Sunday. Earlier in the day Matteo Berrettini had produced a dominant display of tennis to dispatch of Lucas Pouille, a former semi-finalist at the Italian Open, 6-2 6-4 in 76 minutes.
Berrettini, who also received a wildcard into the draw, has been in impressive form on the clay this season, winning the title at Budapest last month and finishing runner-up at Munich the following week. These exploits have helped him to a career-high ranking of No. 31 and Sunday’s victory books him a second round match with the No. 4 seed and last year’s finalist Alexander Zverev.
Sadly Andreas Seppi couldn’t make it a clean sweep for the Italians, falling in three sets to Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in what was his 15th appearance at the Foro Italico.
No. 14 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili exacted revenge over Marton Fucsovics, who defeated him in the first round at Monte Carlo last month, overcoming the Hungarian 6-1 7-6(2) on Court Centrale to book his place in the next round. The Georgian world No. 17 will now face either Mikhail Kukushkin or Laslo Djere.
There was also a first round victory for Philipp Kohlschreiber who battled his way past Gilles Simon 6-2 3-6 6-3 in two hours 19 minutes in the second match on Court Centrale.