“In my career it always happens. After a tough loss, I [get] better.”
Netflix’s Break Point tracked Matteo Berrettini’s run to his maiden Australian Open semi-final at the start of the 2022 season. He fell to a heartbreaking four-set defeat against eventual champion Rafael Nadal in the last four in Melbourne, but the Italian’s mental approach has always set him up well to process disappointments and, crucially, learn from them.
“Once you feel that every day you are putting in the effort, improving the best that you can in everything you are doing, I think at the end of the day you can go to sleep and feel satisfied,” Berrettini told ATP Uncovered in 2021. “It’s not about winning or losing, it’s not about a trophy or no trophy, it’s about if you are enjoying what you are doing, your life, or not.”
Even stepping inside Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena to take on ATP Tour icon Nadal was reward for years of hard work for Berrettini, who bounced back from his disappointment in Australia by winning titles in Stuttgart and at The Queen’s Club in London later in 2022.
“When I was a kid, I was dreaming about being here, playing with the best guys,” he said in 2021. “I was actually looking at the TV watching Novak [Djokovic], Rafa, Roger [Federer] playing, and now I’m playing with them. So it’s really inspiring for me and I think for the next generations as well.
“If you work hard, if you really have a dream, I think you can get there. And even if you don’t get there, if you try your best, it’s something that is going to be helpful for your life.”
That honest and hardworking approach to each day of his pro tennis career brings other emotional rewards for Berrettini, whose huge serve and powerful forehand have made him a fan favourite on Tour. Even if he can’t always believe it himself.
“It’s weird to think about a legacy for me, because I never thought I could be here, when I was younger,” he said. “I never had a plan, I was just playing and playing.
“What really inspired me [later] was when kids were saying ‘I watch all your matches’, when they wear the hat like me, and they say ‘I do the forehand like Berrettini’. This is something that really makes me happy, so I really wish that people watching me feel something that is more than hitting a tennis ball."