Italy’s top ranked player has said he still has goosebumps when remembering what 20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer once said to him.
Matteo Berrettini said he was left starstruck after being congratulated by the Swiss maestro midway through his breakout season. During 2019 the 24-year-old rocketed up the world rankings from 52 to a career ranking high of 8th. During that period, he achieved numerous milestones. Including winning two ATP titles, recording six wins over top 10 opposition and becoming the first man from his country to reach the US Open semi-finals for 42 years.
According to Berrettini, one of the most memorable moments of 2019 took place during the Halle Open when he came face-to-face with Federer. Their interaction took place just weeks before they met in the fourth round at Wimbledon. Where Federer cruised to victory by dropping only five games in total.
“Before Wimbledon I played Stuttgart and Halle. I won Stuttgart whose defending champions was Federer,” Berrettini told Stats Perform.
“In Halle I met him and he complimented me. Before we only exchanged some hellos but to be complimented by him still gives me goosebumps.
“We didn’t speak during Wimbledon because we were in the same half of the draw, so no tips. But then he told me: ‘Congratulations for your grass season. Go on like this and you will go high.’
“Then we met again in London for the ATP Finals. He was very kind because we chatted during the famous boat trip from the hotel to the arena. We chatted about the holidays and his plans.
“The relationship with all of them is so weird. I grew up looking up to them, you know. But the relationship is good, they are special.”
In their only other meeting at the end-of-season ATP Finals last November, Berrettini fared better against his rival. Losing 7-6(2), 6-3. Since 2010 Federer has only lost to an Italian on the Tour once. That was against Andreas Seppi at the 2015 Australian Open.
Due to COVID-19, tennis has come to a standstill until at least July. Although some fear the season may be wiped out all together due to the virus. One of the many events to be cancelled is Wimbledon for the first time since 1945. A tournament that has been hailed by Berrettini.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, Wimbledon is my favourite slam. I reached the US Open semis but I regard Wimbledon as the temple of our sport,” he said.
“I always say that in this place even people who are not experts or passionate about tennis, go there and get keen to be participating and playing. It is wonderful and its cancellation is very tough for us.”
Thiem can break the Big Three deadlock
Besides his admiration for Federer, Berrettini has backed Austria’s Dominic Thiem as the player who has the most potential to end the reign of the Big Three. A group composed of Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Thiem is a three-time grand slam finalist and claimed his maiden Masters 1000 trophy last year in Indian Wells. In January he fell in five sets to Djokovic in the final of the Australian Open.
“Thiem has started as a clay specialist, good rotations and power, but lately he has improved dramatically on hardcourt and faster surfaces. I guess now he is the one I tip for experience and qualities to break through the ‘Big Three.” He assessed.
Berrettini won two out of his three matches against Thiem last year with this only loss occurring in three sets at the Vienna Open. Nevertheless, he has picked the Austrian as one of the players he would like to align most with. The other being Stefanos Tsitsipas, who he describes as the most ‘talented and attacking.’
“My ideal (player) would be between (Stefanos) Tsitsipas and Theim.” He concluded.
Berrettini is currently ranked eighth in the world.
Anett Kontaveit beats Petra Martic to reach the final in Palermo
World number 22 Anett Kontaveit from Estonia upset number 1 seed Petra Martic 6-2 6-4 to reach the final at the Ladies Open in Palermo.
Martic has scored her third win in her seven matches against top 20 players after beating Belinda Bencic and Elina Svitolina.
Kontaveit avenged her defeat against Martic in their only previous match played in Dubai last February before the lockdown.
Kontaveit had to fight to hold her serve in the first game of the opening set at deuce and took control of the match by breaking in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead.
Martic won only 56% on her first serve in the opening set. Kontaveit came back from 0-30 down to hold serve in the seventh game before breaking for the second time in the eighth game to win the first set 6-2.
Martic earned an early break in the first game of the second set at deuce, but Kontaveit broke straight back to draw level to 1-1. The Estonian player saved a break point before holding serve to take a 2-1 lead. Kontaveit saved five of the six break points she faced. Kontaveit broke for the second time in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead. Martic held serve at 2-5 down before breaking serve at 15 in the ninth game to claw her way back to 4-5. The Croatian player received a medical time-out before Kontaveit for the third time in the tenth game at love to close out the second set 6-4.
Kontaveit will chase her second title in tomorrow’s final three years after winning in S’Hertogenbosch in 2017.
“I felt like I played a very good match today. I was quite aggressive, consistent, and I served especially well in the first set. It got a bit close in the end, but I played a good game at 5-4 and I am happy to be in the final”, said Kontaveit.
Petra Martic comes back from one set down to beat Ludmila Samsonova in Palermo
Top seed Petra Martic from Croatia came back from one set down to beat qualifier and world number 117 Ludmila Samsonova 5-7 6-4 6-2.
Martic saved six break points in the 10th game of the opening set, but Samsonova converted her third break point in the 12th game to win the first set 7-5.
Martic earned an early break in the first game to open up a 2-0 lead. Samsonova broke back at love in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Martic broke for the second time in the ninth game to win the second set 6-4. The Croatian player broke twice in the third and seventh games to close out the third set 6-2.
Martic will face world number 50 Aliaksandra Sasnovich from Belarus in the quarter finals. Sasnovich came through the qualifying round before beating Jasmine Paolini in straight sets.
Former top 30 Camila Giorgi rallied from losing the first set to beat Slovenian teenager Kaja Juvan 3-6 6-2 6-4 after 2 hours reaching her second WTA quarter final of the season. Before the outbreak of the Covid-19 outbreak Giorgi reached the top 8 in Lyon. Juvan qualified for the Main Draw at the Australian Open and beat five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams in three sets at the Abierto Mexicano in Acapulco.
Giorgi started with an early break at deuce at the start of the first set and opened a 2-0 lead. Juvan broke twice to take a 4-3 lead. Giorgi dropped serve for the third time after a double fault on the set point.
Giorgi came back from 1-2 down by winning five consecutive games with two consecutive breaks in the fifth and seventh games.
Giorgi broke twice to race out to a 3-0 lead at the start of the third set. Juvan pulled one break back at love in the fourth game but Giorgi got another break to race out to a 5-1 lead. Juvan broke at 30, when Giorgi was serving for the match at 5-2. The Italian player earned two match points and sealed the win on her second chance.
“I think I was more solid in playing my game. I was moving more forward, so it was much for me. At the start of the match, I was making too many tactical mistakes because I was trying to finish points for no reason. I started to adopt better tactics in the second set and that’s when things started working for me”, said Giorgi.
Number 4 seed Anett Kontaveit from Estonia came back from one set down to beat Laura Siegemund 3-6 6-2 6-2 after 2 hours and 20 minutes booking her spot in the quarter finals at the Palermo Ladies Open.
The Estonian player has reached her third quarter final this year after the Australian Open and Dubai.
Kontaveit set up a quarter final against Elisabetta Cocciaretto, who became the youngest Italian player to reach the quarter final of a tournament since Sara Errani in 2006.
“I am quite happy about the way I was handling close situations, playing the close games and turning the close games around. I thought I actually handled that sort of pressure, that I didn’t think I would be used to, quite well”, said Kontaveit.
Andrea Gaudenzi recognizes the contribution of the Italian Tennis Federation in staging the Internazionali d’Italia
ATP President and former Italian tennis player Andrea Gaudenzi spoke in an interview to Italian TV channel Supertennis about staging the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome before the French Open and recognised the contribution of the Italian tennis Federation (FIT) in staging the tournament in the Italian capital.
The Rome ATP Masters 1000 and WTA Premier 5 tournaments will be held from 20th to 27th September one week before the French Open (27th September to 11th October).
“We are grateful to everyone, holding an event this year is difficult from an organizational and financial point of view. We thank the Italian Federation and those who organize the Challengers. Italy is making a great contribution. I think the players are waiting for the BNL Internazionali d’Italia. The Foro Italico is among the most beautiful venues in the world. Rome is splendid in September”, said Gaudenzi.
During his tennis career Gaudenzi scored wins over Roger Federer in Rome 2002, Pete Sampras in the first round of the 2002 French Open, Jim Courier in the 1994 US Open, Goran Ivanisevic, Thomas Muster, Michael Stich and Yevgeny Kafelnikov. Gaudenzi claimed three ATP titles in Casablanca in 1998, St. Poelten and Bastad in 2002. He graduated in law at the Bologna University and obtained a MBA with Honours at IUM.
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