Berrettini deals a crushing defeat to Gasquet at Ultimate Tennis Showdown
Day Five’s afternoon session concluded with a blockbuster match between two of the league leaders. Coming into the weekend, Tsitsipas, Gasquet and Berrettini all held 3-1 win-loss records but with the Frenchman and the Italian facing off against one another, the deadlock was guaranteed to be broken. It was Berrettini who came out on top by a misleadingly one-sided 4-0 scoreline, but it was only a few well-timed big serves that separated the pair.
Berrettini began by showing why he has been nicknamed “The Hammer” with some heavy hitting in the opening exchanges that gave him an early lead. Gasquet, however, arguably the stand out performer of the first two weekends, fought back into the quarter and had the score level at 6-all. Here the Frenchman opted to ‘Steal Serve’ but to no avail as he lost the next two points.
The Italian, with the momentum back on his side, chose to use ‘x3 Winner’, but much like his opponent just before he failed on both attempts; the second due to an undercooked dropshot. At 10-10, it was Berrettini’s turn to ‘Steal Serve’ but the pair split the points leaving Gasquet to serve with just over 30 seconds to play. The Frenchman lost the fist with an unforced error but then hit a huge serve to take the quarter to sudden death. This, however, came on the Berrettini serve and “The Hammer” once more lived up to his reputation and sealed the first quarter with a huge first serve of his own.
The second quarter began where the first left off with little to separate the pair. It was not until Berrettini reached 7-5 with some powerful serving that a gap opened up between them. The advantage grew to 10-6 as the errors crept into Gasquet’s game under the pressure of Berrettini’s relentless hitting and an ace whilst using his ‘x3 Winner’ card gave him a 16-8 lead with just two minutes left on the clock. There was no way back for Gasquet from there and the quarter ended 21-11, giving the Italian a 2-0 lead.
Needing to win the next two quarter to take the match to sudden death, Gasquet started well by winning the first point of the third on against the Berrettini serve. “The Hammer” suddenly found himself struggling to find his first serve and Gasquet was able to build an early lead at 6-2. The Frenchman failed to capitalise when using his ‘x3 Winner’ card but he maintained his lead through to 10-6.
Having cut the gap to 10-8, Berrettini chose to ‘Steal Serve’ but he won just one of the two, giving Gasquet the advantage heading into the closing moments. Missed volleys on both of his service points brought the score level at 11-all but Gasquet still had his ‘Steal Serve’, meaning that this time, unlike in the first quarter, he could serve for the sudden death point. However, this too went against him as he netted a backhand to hand Berrettini a 12-11 victory that seemed highly unlikely just two minutes prior.
Playing for pride, Gasquet took a 6-3 lead in the fourth quarter but some more poor play under pressure saw that soon become 6-6. Trailing 9-7, Berrettini found yet another ace when using his ‘x3 Winner’ card to reclaim the lead, and he almost found another but Gasquet somehow found the return at full stretch, surprising his opponent, and tying things up at 10-apiece.
The score was tied at 13-13 with Berrettini to serve, but a well-timed smash saw Gasquet move ahead. Berrettini won the next for 14-14 but Berrettini still had his ‘Steal Serve’, which he utilised in style to take another incredibly tight quarter 16-14. The Italian took the match 4-0 but three of those quarters went down to the final seconds and Gasquet could very easily have been a 3-1 winner himself.
Earlier in the afternoon, Alexei Popyrin made up for last weekend’s disappointing results with a 4-0 win over Benoit Paire, whilst Corentin Moutet left Dustin Brown still looking for a first win with a whitewash victory of his own. The evening session will see Feliciano Lopez play Stefanos Tsitsipas (20:00 BST) followed by David Goffin v Dominic Thiem (21:15 BST).
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