© Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Matteo Berrettini is the seventh seed at the Australian Open.

Berrettini Downs Nakashima, Moves Through In Melbourne

World No. 10 Hurkacz advances

Matteo Berrettini survived an inspired effort from #NextGenATP American Brandon Nakashima Monday, overcoming the 20-year-old 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(5), 6-3 to reach the second round at the Australian Open.

The seventh-seeded Italian was in danger of falling behind by two sets to one on Margaret Court Arena, but saved two set points on serve at 4-5, 15/40 in the third set, eventually forcing what proved to be a pivotal tie-break. In the breaker, Berrettini raced to a 5/0 lead before Nakashima closed to 6/5. Back on serve, the American surrendered the set with an untimely error.

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Berrettini fought through stomach issues throughout his three-hour, 10-minute win, taking a medical timeout in set two, as well as a bathroom break following set three and again during a changeover early in the fourth.

“I’ve been feeling sick with my stomach, let’s say that,”Berrettini said in his on-court interview. “But that battling hold in the 10th game of set three gave him the belief to power through.

“It was really important. I was feeling the match was changing a little bit there,” he said of the eight-point service game. “I really held there with my mental strength mostly, because my body wasn’t there.”

Down a break at 5-2 in the fourth, Nakashima saved three match points to force the Italian to serve out the match. He got as close as 30/30 in the final game, but a big Berrettini serve closed it out. The unreturned serve on match point was a fitting end to a contest that saw 21 aces off the Italian’s racquet.

Berrettini will face wild card Stefan Kozlov in the second round, after the American beat Jiri Vesely, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.

In other action on Monday, 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz was made to work hard as he reached the second round at the Australian Open for the second time.

The 24-year-old fired 16 aces as he edged World No. 106 Egor Gerasimov 6-2, 7-6(3), 6-7(5), 6-3 in three hours and 15 minutes. The Pole, who is making his fourth appearance in Melbourne, will next face Adrian Mannarino after the 33-year-old battled past Australian James Duckworth 6-4, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 after three hours and 11 minutes.

Hurkacz enjoyed a strong 2021 season, winning three tour-level titles as he qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time. The World No. 10 will look to continue his momentum in Melbourne as he targets a maiden major trophy.

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