Italy's men are starting to matter in tennis like its women

ROME (AP) — After four decades of dormancy, male tennis players in Italy are finally showing signs of becoming as good as the women have been.

Marco Cecchinato got things rolling by reaching the French Open semifinals last year — the first Italian man to reach the last four of a major since 1978. Fabio Fognini followed by becoming the first to win a Masters event by beating Rafael Nadal en route to the Monte Carlo title last month.

And players like Matteo Berrettini and Lorenzo Sonego are in the process of breaking through, while teenagers Lorenzo Musetti and Jannik Sinner represent a bright future.

All that success has resulted in record ticket sales at this week’s Italian Open — and some of the Italians could make a run at the French Open, which starts May 26.

“The men haven’t reached this level in 40 years. So people are not coming only to see (Rafael) Nadal or (Serena) Williams, they’re coming to root for the Italians,” Italian Tennis Federation president Angelo Binaghi said. “It’s one thing to have 10,000 spectators. It’s another thing to have 10,000 fans.

“This boom in men’s tennis is the next step in a process that began with the golden age of the women followed by the…

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