For someone who is top 20 in the world and has been for some time, Matteo Berrettini has not actually played a lot of tennis. In fact, the Italian has played just 132 singles matches. To put it into perspective, Karen Khachanov and Borna Coric who are both also 24 have played in 258 and 302 singles matches respectively.
Over a year ago when he made the final four in New York I wrote about his unusual rise to the top of mens tennis and how he was reaping the rewards of biding his time:
Following his magnificent run to the semi-finals at the US Open it was this run as well as wins earlier on in the year in Hungary, Stuttgart and a big win over Schwartzman at Wimbledon that propelled him to the ATP Finals.
The 2670 points he picked up to qualify was the lowest in qualifying for the tour finals for a long time and it came with criticism. Some said he didn’t do enough to be there which was unfair, he earned the right to be there as does anyone.
It didn’t go to plan for Matteo who lost in all three round robin matches but needed to use it as a learning curve.
2020 was tough to build momentum, the year stopped and opportunities were few and far between however the Italian has kicked off 2021 in style.
He came to the ATP maybe with a point to prove, the ability is there but pulling it all together was the question. We knew the strengths of his forehand but could he bring his backhand up to that level and be a threat on both wings?
Performances and wins against Dominic Thiem, Gael Monfils and Roberto Bautista Agut put the Italian and Italy into the final of the ATP Cup only to be halted by an unstoppable Daniil Medvedev and Russia. The performances were complete from Matteo, he has shown for me he is top ten, there is still a bridge to gap and I think with time it will come.
He had a tough opening few rounds at the Australian Open but saw off Kevin Anderson, Tomas Machac and Karen Khachanov with composure and confidence.
I watched him against Khachanov which he won 7-6 7-6 7-6 and it was a fascinating match, he did spend most of the match in that serving from behind position. 4-5, 5-6 etc… the pressure was always on but he did everything well. I would have liked to have seem him press Khachanov earlier in the sets but he was composed and in control of his service games.
Things did get a little tricky in the third set as he did have to call the trainer on with an abdominal issue. He did battle through and win the match but sadly it was the end of his run in Melbourne.
I was looking forward to seeing him take on Tsitsipas in the quarter finals. He brought composure and confidence to the court and I hope this is just the start for him in 2021.