By the age of 23 many players on the tour have been knocking around for a good six years with a few hundred matches under their belt. It does have it’s benefits, we have seen soo many players win big early in their careers but we have seen the struggles and the hard fight on young shoulders to come through tough times.
I always believe the saying ‘too much too soon’ in tennis and some are victim to that but Matteo was brought up differently.
From a young age he was coached by former top 100 player Vincenzo Santopadre and the journey to now has been totally different to the ‘norm’.
In his teens Matteo came last in all training tests and wondered whether to continue and that’s where things changed for him. His coach Vincenzo thought it was a good idea to delay playing tennis and treated him like a player 10 years older.
One of the keys was to develop a life outside of tennis, build character and a grounded person.
Like I said I’m a big believer of players having too much too soon and rushing into playing but it is shown there are other ways. Matteo as a junior didn’t pull up trees and reached a career high of 52 on the circuit and didn’t turn pro until 19 but still took a slower road but is now hitting incredible heights.
You can read more of his incredible story here – https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/06/sports/tennis/us-open-matteo-berrettini.html
Matteo is now 23 years old and has played only 89 main draw matches! 53 wins and 36 defeats. His record this year is 34 wins and 16 defeats including two titles in Budapest (clay) and Stuttgart (grass).
Matteo Berrettini isn’t just a guy who has had a good run at a major but from his debut year which began 18 months ago to now he has climb from 157 and on Monday will be around 13 in the world.
He doesn’t get spoken about as ‘NextGen’ because essentially he is too old… The ATP NextGen Final rules mean you have to be 21, but at 23 he’s producing tennis which will set him up for the future.
The Italian has also thrown his name into the mix for a place at the World Tour Finals in London. He is currently just out of the running in 9th position but 20 points behind Kei Nishikori so watch this space.
His season can’t be defined by one tournament but by what he has achieved and what he has overcome. A lot of talk came his way after his 6-1 6-2 6-2 drubbing by Federer in the fourth round of Wimbledon as the 17th seed.
Before New York he hadn’t won since Wimbledon and dropped to 25th seed but his run to the semi-finals was exceptional. Gasquet and Thompson in four sets, Popyrin and Rublev and then Monfils in five. Super talent guys with totally different styles. Also we cannot forget the first two sets against Rafa which were super competitive!
Matteo has a strong all round game. We saw during his match against Rafa how deep the Spaniard return the serve of the Italians which has good variety. His best shot is his forehand which he likes to run around and hit inside-out or inside-in.
We saw especially in the first set against Nadal that delicate touch as well not afraid to pull out a drop shot which I like as a lot of the younger guys go for just power and lack variety.
The problem in his game is the two handed backhand. The slice works quite well at changing up the rhythm but it will come with time. Watching him play is like watching a young Del Potro.
Rest of the season is a free hit but I can’t see him dipping out right now, with London in sight he has to regain focus.