Modern US Open classics: When Matteo Berrettini made Grand Slam breakthrough
Matteo Berrettini is a Wimbledon finalist and a well-established and much-loved name in tennis as a result, but you could argue that it is the US Open with which his is most synonymous.
Certainly, cast your minds back to the 2019 US Open, and few really expected much from the Italian. Despite being the world number 24, he headed to New York with just a handful of hardcourt wins behind him for the year.
His US Open record itself was largely dismal as well. In fact he had only played one match there before – a straight sets defeat to Denis Kudla a year earlier.
It’s fair to say that few, then, had him in their semi-final projections. That was where his adventure ended in defeat to eventual winner Rafael Nadal
In the quarterfinals, Berrettini came up against Gael Monfils, and it was a match that probably changed the trajectory of his whole career.
His big-serving power game was proving far too much for everyone, including Andrey Rublev who couldn’t even take a set from the Italian. Monfils, though, one of the quickest and dynamic players in ATP history, appeared well-equipped to come out on top.
The contest had extra spice because the stakes were high for Monfils as well. He has reached Grand Slam semi-finals before, but the last four this time would feature neither Roger Federer nor Novak Djokovic, both of whom lost in the quarters.
It was, then, a lovable veteran seeking a career renaissance against an up-and-coming powerhouse looking for a genuine breakthrough – and it produced an instant classic.
What followed was four hours and five sets of brilliant topsy-turvy tennis. Berrettini had five match points, the first of which saw him double fault and then lose his serve to allow Monfils to level the fifth set.
“I was dying inside,” Berrettini said afterwards, but he eventually found a way to close out what proved to be a genuine career breakthrough win.
“I was saying to myself during the match, ‘What do you expect for, I mean, you’re 23. Just playing your first [Slam] quarterfinal and you expect that you not get tight?’,” the Italian explained.
“So I was saying to myself, ‘Okay, that’s normal. Keep going. You know you’re going to have more chances,'” Berrettini said. “That’s the thing that I’m most proud of, you know. That’s what I learned.”
You can relive the drama with by watching the video above.
Matteo Berrettini at 2023 US Open
Matteo Berrettini headed to New York looking to rekindle some joy after a tough year with injury. He needed hand surgery in 2022 and was ruled out of Wimbledon due to Covid. That was followed this year by an abdominal tear at the Monte Carlo Masters that put him out of Roland Garros.
He did return for Wimbledon, where it took eventual winner Carlos Alcaraz to stop him, but New York was seen as a big opportunity.
Things were looking like they were going well in the first round too. Berrettini glided round the court in his ASICS Gel Resolution 9 BOSS editions with authority as he easily dispatched Ugo Humbert in straight sets.
However, an ankle injury struck in round two against Arthur Rinderknech, leaving him side-lined once again.
Matteo Berrettini and ASICS
Matteo wears ASICS Gel-Resolution 9 BOSS edition trainers which are the latest version of the Japanese performance brand’s specialist tennis shoe designed for baseline grinders who want stability and durability. You can learn more about the 9th version of the Gel-Resolution from this recent Tennishead review which includes a play-test video.
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