Berrettini's Firepower Ends Monfils' Run In Five-Set Epic

Italian faces Nadal in the semi-finals

Matteo Berrettini survived a spirited Gael Monfils fight back in the early hours of Wednesday morning to become the first Italian man to reach the semi-finals at the Australian Open.

In a heavy-hitting, all-action performance on Rod Laver Arena, Berrettini clawed past the Frenchman 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 3-6, 6-2 in an epic clash to keep his title hopes alive in Melbourne.

“It feels unbelievable,” Berrettini said in his on-court interview. “I am really happy for myself. What a great fight against Gael. It was a great match with a lot of emotions. I thought I had him in the third set and then I found myself in the fifth. But I really fought hard and put everything on the court and that is why I am really happy.”

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The seventh seed, who is making his fifth appearance in Melbourne, mixed quality with grit, playing aggressively for large periods as he ran around his backhand to try and dictate with his powerful forehand against the athletic Monfils.

Berrettini fired 50 winners and rallied in the decider after Monfils bombarded him with offensive tennis in the third and fourth sets to advance after three hours and 48 minutes. With his victory, the 25-year-old has improved his ATP Head2Head series against Monfils to 3-0 and will face sixth seed Rafael Nadal in the last four after the Spaniard edged Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-3.

“I was just focused on winning the match,” Berrettini said. “I had a couple of break points [in the third set] and I couldn’t take them and tennis is like this. It happened with Alcaraz as well. I was leading and then they start to play better.”

The Italian has now reached the semi-finals at three of the four Grand Slams, with his best result at a major a run to the championship match at Wimbledon last year. The 2019 US Open semi-finalist could be joined in the last four by countryman Jannik Sinner if the 11th seed defeats Stefanos Tsitsipas on Wednesday.

Berrettini is now 6-2 on the season, having moved past #NextGenATP stars Brandon Nakashima, Stefan Kozlov, Carlos Alcaraz and Pablo Carreno Busta at Melbourne Park.

In a strong first set, Berrettini stepped inside the baseline to pull Monfils from corner to corner with his heavy groundstrokes. Despite his impressive movement, the Frenchman was unable to stay with the World No. 7, who committed just five unforced errors to move ahead.

Fuelled with confidence, Berrettini won another mini-battle on serve at 1-2 in the second set, saving three break points as he came through a 20-minute service game to hold, letting out a roar in delight when Monfils hit a forehand long. With his foot down, the Italian then gained the decisive break on the 17th seed’s serve at 3-3 to take further control.

The Italian managed to deal with the variety of pace Monfils offered in the first two sets, but the Frenchman started to take the game to Berrettini in the third set, swinging freely to win the set as he changed the momentum of the match.

Monfils went on to dominate as the aggressor in the baseline exchanges in the fourth set, hitting with greater spin to force the Italian back. But Berrettini demonstrated his resilience, raising his level to win the first four games of the deciding set. He then held his nerve on serve to earn his second fifth-set victory against Monfils, having triumphed in five against the Frenchman in the last eight at the US Open in 2019.

Monfils was aiming to reach his third Grand Slam semi-final, having advanced to the last four on home soil at Roland Garros in 2008 and the US Open in 2016.

The World No. 20, who had not dropped a set en route to the quarter-finals, clinched his 11th tour-level title earlier this month at the Adelaide International 1 and is 8-2 on the season.

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