Berrettini Breezes Past Thiem To Gstaad Final

Italian to face top seed Ruud in Sunday’s championship match

Matteo Berrettini’s magical European summer rumbled on at the EFG Swiss Open Gstaad on Saturday, when the World No. 15 eased to a straight-sets semi-final victory against 2015 champion Dominic Thiem.

The Italian dominated the pair’s sixth ATP Head2Head meeting at the clay-court ATP 250 event in Switzerland, where he struck the ball with power and accuracy throughout to charge to a 6-1, 6-4 victory. Berrettini raced to a 5-0 lead early in the first set and gave Thiem few opportunities to establish a foothold in the match thereafter, going on to seal victory in 78 minutes.

“I’m really happy with my performance,” said Berrettini, the 2018 champion in Gstaad, after the match. “I knew that I had to play my best tennis to beat him. I think my game in general was working pretty well. I was serving well, returning well. I was being aggressive. I don’t think I gave him the time to play his game and that was the key today.”

Having won his previous two tournaments in Stuttgart and at The Queen’s Club, the win extends Berrettini’s winning streak since returning to Tour in June after a hand injury to 12 matches.

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Berrettini’s fast start was in stark contrast to his quarter-final clash against Pedro Martinez on Friday, when the Italian dropped the first set and trailed 1/5 in the second-set tie-break before rallying to victory. The second seed was pleased with the improvements he made for Saturday’s semi-final as he extended his ATP Head2Head series lead against Thiem to 4-2.

“Obviously, the more you play, the more you feel better,” said Berrettini in his on-court interview. “I think today was my best match of the week, obviously against a great player. I knew that I had to play at this level to beat him. I started way better. The approach was better, the attitude was better, the energy was better. I really enjoyed it.”

Berrettini did not hold back in the early stages against Thiem. The second seed hit cleanly through the ball off both wings to pile the pressure on the Austrian, and his aggressive tactics saw him ease to the first set after breaking his opponent’s serve in the second and fourth games.

The seven-time tour-level titlist Berrettini continued to target the Thiem delivery early in the second set and he moved within a game of a quickfire victory at 5-2. A series of trademark searing backhand winners from the former World No. 3 Thiem pegged the Italian back as he was broken when serving for the match, but the Italian was not to be denied. He wrapped up a comfortable triumph having won 85 per cent (29/34) of points behind his first serve, compared to Thiem’s 55 per cent (18/33).

Standing between the second seed and his third Tour title of 2022 in Sunday’s championship match will be defending champion Casper Ruud, after the Norwegian eased past 2019 titlist Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-2, 6-0. If Berrettini clinches his eighth tour-level title in Gstaad on Sunday, he will rise one place to 11th in the Pepperstone ATP Race To Turin as he seeks to qualify for the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals in his homeland for the third time.

“It’s going to be tough. I was actually thinking about it yesterday,” said Berrettini. “The four [semi-finalists] all won [the title] here, so we definitely like to play [in Gstaad]. We like the altitude. I won 2018, Albert in 2019, and Casper in 2021, so I guess we like it here.”

Despite Saturday’s defeat, Thiem’s semi-final run in Gstaad represents another promising sign for the 17-time Tour titlist as he seeks to regain his best form after returning to competitive action in March following a nine-month layoff due to a wrist injury. His victories against Hugo Gaston, Federico Delbonis and Juan Pablo Varillas in Switzerland this week have lifted the Austrian 77 spots to No. 197 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.

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