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Rafael Nadal’s First Round Opponent at Italian Open 2024, Zizou Bergs Is No Pushover and Here’s Why


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Rafael Nadal will kickstart his Italian Open 2024 campaign in Rome by going up against Zizou Bergs in the first round. The 24-year-old Bergs will be taking on Nadal for the first time in his career.

Zizou Bergs was born on June 3, 1999 and has spent his entire life in Lommel, Belgium. His father, Koen Bergs, is his “biggest fan” and works as a CPO for a train company. His mother, Anne-Mie is a photographer and his brother, Maxim is a ski instructor.

Zizou began playing tennis at the young age of 3, training with his father. However, with hopes of making it as a pro, the youngster was soon enrolled into the LTA Academy in the United Kingdom at age 8. By the age of 15, Zizou was sent to the Flemish Federation’s training center.

While it was Zizou’s father who first made him play tennis, his love for the sport was passed onto him by his grandfather. Hence, after winning the Tallahassee Challenger in April 2023, Zizou emotionally dedicated the win to him.

“Every match he would give me a whole analysis of what happened and give me things to work on. I really hoped he would continue doing that just in a different way, and it definitely happened. He was present that week, I won that with him. It was very emotional and special,” Zizou said, per ATP Tour.

Since 2018, Zizou has reached the finals of the ATP Challenger and ITF tournaments 20 times and won 12 titles. Unfortunately, this same result has not translated into the ATP 250, 500, 1000, or Grand Slam events just yet. That might change in 2024 looking at his progress.

Zizou Bergs and His 2024 Season So Far

But Zizou Bergs was first known at the Australian Open 2024. Having qualified for the main draw at Melbourne for the second straight year, Berges was pitted against Stefanos Tsitsipas. Out of nowhere, Bergs managed to clinch the first set 7-5. However, he was unable to capitalize, as Tsitsipas won the next three sets 6-1, 6-1, 6-3.

The current World No.108 has had a 3-4 YTD on the ATP Tour and earned $171,457 this season. But for his career, the former World No.103 has collected a total of $855,360 in prize money.

But Bergs is having a great clay season so far. He pushed Ben Shelton to three sets at Houston, made the finals at the Sarasota Challenger and won the Tallahassee Challenger. With a 12-3 record on clay, per Tennis Live, the Belgian will be confident in his abilities ahead of his clash against Rafael Nadal.

Despite playing against the King of Clay, Bergs will try being locked in, blocking out all the support that his opponent is set to receive. While the 22-time Grand Slam winner is projected to cruise into the second round, Bergs can make a name for himself even if he manages to steal a set on Thursday.

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