Berrettini Maintains Winning Run, Reaches SFs In London

Italian seeking fourth tour-level title on grass

Reigning champion Matteo Berrettini moved to within two wins of retaining his title at the Cinch Championships Friday, soaring past American Tommy Paul 6-4, 6-2 to reach the semi-finals in London.

Competing in front of a packed crowd on a sun-baked centre court, the Italian recovered from a slow start as he increased his power off the ground and hit with greater precision throughout to advance after 75 minutes.

“I am really happy,” Berrettini said in his on-court interview. “Today was very tough to play. It was very windy and hot, so I made some mistakes but I was there. I fought through and I feel my game was getting higher and higher the more I was playing, so I am really happy with it.”

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The second seed has now won his past seven matches since returning to Tour in Stuttgart last week following three months out due to injury. The 26-year-old downed former World No. 1 Andy Murray in the final at the German ATP 250 event last week to clinch his third tour-level title on grass, before earning wins over Daniel Evans and Denis Kudla in London.

In an entertaining clash, Berrettini battled back from 1-4 in the first set and won 82 per cent (23/28) of his first-serve points to level his ATP Head2Head series with 25-year-old Paul at 1-1. The American, who is up to No. 34 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, beat Denis Shapovalov to earn his first tour-level win on grass in the first round and then sunk former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka.

World No. 10 Berrettini, who holds a 30-6 record on grass, will next face Botic van de Zandschulp after the Dutchman downed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2, 6-4.

Van de Zandschulp is the first Dutchman to reach the quarter-finals in London since Sjeng Schalken and Raemon Sluiter both advanced to the semi-finals in 2002.

The 26-year-old has now earned a career-best 22 wins this season and is up to No. 26 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.