Berrettini Sinks Kozlov, Sets Alcaraz Clash In Melbourne
Seventh seed Matteo Berrettini demonstrated his winning mentality Wednesday as he passed a testing exam to set up a crunch third-round match against #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz at the Australian Open.
The Italian, who suffered from stomach problems in the first round, overcame American wild card Stefan Kozlov 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 in two hours and 38 minutes to reach the third round in Melbourne for the second time.
“It was a tough match. I think I started really well but then he started playing better and I wasn’t feeling my strokes after the first set, but I am happy to be through," Berrettini said in his on-court interview. "My stomach is better, but it is never easy to recover from something like that, so that is why my energy wasn’t its highest. I am really happy to win.”
After a strong start, Berrettini struggled to find his rhythm against Kozlov, who hit aggressively and with great depth to force the 25-year-old into errors. However, the World No. 7 was able to rely on his powerful serve to dig him out of holes, firing 21 aces and saving four of the five break points he faced in their first ATPHead2Head meeting.
The 25-year-old is making his fifth appearance at the first major of the season, with his best result a run to the fourth-round last year. However, Berrettini has strong Grand Slam pedigree, having reached the final at Wimbledon in 2021 (l. to Djokovic).
The five-time tour-level titlist moved past #NextGenATP American Brandon Nakashima in four sets in the first round and will next face another red-hot youngster in the shape of Alcaraz.
The 31st seed has yet to drop a set in Melbourne and will be targeting another deep run at a slam, after advancing to the quarter-finals at the US Open in September. The 18-year-old is the youngest player to be seeded at a major since Michael Chang at the 1990 US Open.
The 25th seed, who is competing at the Australian Open for the fifth time, fired 42 winners and broke seven times to secure his victory after two hours and 31 minutes, improving to 2-1 in their ATPHead2Head series.