It has been quite the season for Matteo Berrettini.
The Italian began his year ranked at 54 in the world and after 8 events had 6 wins and 7 defeats to his name, not the ideal start.
After a round one exit at Indian Wells he needed wins on the board so headed off to Arizona where he dropped down to challenger level but won the title there.
He returned to Masters 1000 level with back to back straight set defeats in Miami and Monte-Carlo but then found form.
He won his first title of the year in Hungary and followed it up with a runners-up trophy in Munich.
Wins against Pouille and Zverev were final highlights of his clay court season after a round two exit at Roland Garros.
Form came in blocks again winning on the grass in Stuttgart seeing off Kyrgios, Auger-Aliassime and Khachanov without a set dropped. The following week in Halle he saw off Khachanov again before being stopped in the semi-finals by David Goffin.
Just five games won against Federer in the fourth round at Wimbledon was a concern for Italian but he showed us what he is made of.
His tennis in New York was incredible making the semi-finals there before being seen off by Rafa. His tennis was excellent and the quarter final against Monfils is one of the matches of the year.
Recently he made the semi-finals in Shanghai and in Vienna which have been great runs but have highlight a slight issue which I will come onto later.
Matteo’s path however has been totally different. This is his full breakthrough year and to be heading to London is a great achievement. 2670 points is the lowest since 2009 for the final player to qualify but he’s deserved it.
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 on his incredible journey here;
I said a little bit of a worry and for me it is the backhand. He won’t hit off it and create problems for the opponent and defending off it is tough for him.
The recent defeat to Tsonga. 14 forehand winners and 10 forehand errors isn’t bad but had nothing come off the backhand. 2 winners and 4 unforced errors off the two hander.
Players will look at going deep into backhand corner as we have seen in defeats to Tsonga, Thiem, Zverev and Murray of late so it is something to keep an eye on.
At the same time Berrettini is probably the only one who comes to London without major expectation on him. If anything this could be called a free hit and importantly a great learning experience to begin 2020 with. I said in the headline it should be a learning curve and not season defining and I stand by that as expectations are lower and he can end his season now as a success where as some come here with something to prove.
Remember the 6 wins and 7 defeats to start this season? There will be opportunities to exceed at Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami where he was a round one casualty.