Fixture: (1) Matteo Berrettini vs Ergi Kirkin
Tournament: Antalya Open 2021
Round: Round of 32 (First round)
Venue: Antalya, Turkey
Category: ATP 250
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: €300,000
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel
Matteo Berrettini vs Ergi Kirkin preview
After qualifying for the elite Nitto ATP Finals in 2019, Matteo Berrettini was slowed down in 2020 - first by injuries, and then by the COVID-19 pandemic. The young Italian, who recently signed with Ivan Ljubicic's sports agency, would be hoping to regain his momentum in 2021.
Seeded No. 1 in Antalya, Berrettini will look to claim the fourth title of his career. Qualifying for the ATP Finals this year - so that he can play in front of his home fans in Turin - will be added motivation for him.
Berrettini's first opponent in Antalya is the 21-year-old wild card Ergi Kirkin, ranked No. 446 in the world. As a junior Kirkin peaked at No. 20 in the ITF rankings, but he is only now beginning to climb his way up the pro ranks.
Kirkin claimed two ITF titles at Antalya in 2019, and ended the 2020 season with back-to-back ITF titles in Tunisia. That means he comes into this event on a 10-match winning streak.
Matteo Berrettini vs Ergi Kirkin head-to-head
Matteo Berrettini and Ergi Kirkin have never played each other on the ATP tour, and therefore the head-to-head currently stands at 0-0.
Matteo Berrettini vs Ergi Kirkin prediction
Matteo Berrettini is definitely the more experienced and powerful player coming into this match. The 24-year-old's big groundstrokes and quick serve are his main strengths, which are especially effective on hardcourts.
The one questionable aspect about Berrettini, however, is his fitness and conditioning. The Italian played only 15 matches in all of 2020, with his best performances coming at the US Open (fourth round) and the Rome Masters (quarter-finals). Whether he can deal with the rigors of the tour right off the bat this season, remains to be seen.
For much of the tennis world, Ergi Kirkin is an unknown entity. The Turkish player made his ATP-level debut at this very event last year, losing to World No. 123 Peter Gojowczyk in the first round.
The wild card provides Kirkin an invaluable opportunity to pit himself against a top-10 player in his own backyard. It will be interesting to see how the young Turk responds.
Prediction: Matteo Berrettini to win in straight setsPublished 06 Jan 2021, 17:27 IST