Berrettini Edges Zverev In Serving Showcase
It's go time for Matteo Berrettini!
Having played just one match in the past three months coming into Wimbledon due to a stomach injury, the Italian needed only to return to the hallowed lawns of The All England Club to rediscover his best form.
Playing Alexander Zverev on No. 1 Court in a match that began with the roof open and concluded with it closed after a brief second-set downpour, Berrettini used his weight of shot on serve and from the baseline to overwhelm Zverev 6-3, 7-6(4), 7-6(5) in two hours and 27 minutes.
"It must be something special about this place. I love to play here," Berrettini said. "Last year I missed it unfortunately and I still didn't heal from that withdrawal. This tournament changed my career, my life, it's so special to be here."
Zverev had eight service holds to love (including four straight to start the second set) but couldn’t put a dent in the Berrettini serve, earning just one break point chance for the match.
It was a devastating performance that will not have escaped the attention of top seed Carlos Alcaraz, whom Berrettini plays next.
Berrettini’s pulsating run, including strong wins over Lorenzo Sonego and Alex de Minaur spanning four days of play in the opening two rounds, is in stark contrast to his tepid first-round exit to Sonego in Stuttgart in what was hist first tournament since the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters in mid April.
“I spent many days in my bed crying about not being able to play, so playing five days in a row is nothing," Berrettini said. "I missed playing, I missed competing. I’m finding extra energy every day."
A finalist in his last outing at Wimbledon in 2021, Berrettini missed last year’s tournament after testing positive for Covid-19. This year, he came into the tournament with a modest 7-7 record after an injury-interrupted season. In his only appearance on grass before Wimbledon, the 27-year-old eked out just three games against Sonego in the first round of Stuttgart.
Despite his struggles, Berrettini has stepped it up at the majors. He has now reached the second week in eight of the past nine Grand Slams he has contested, a run that includes three quarter-finals, the 2022 Australian Open semi-final and the ’21 Wimbledon final, where he lost to Novak Djokovic.
Looking ahead to his clash with Alcaraz, whom he beat in a fifth-set tie-break at the 2022 Australian Open, Berrettini said, "The first time I played him two years ago I felt that this kid was special. He has won so much already. We’ve always had great matches so I’m really looking forward to that one."
Did You Know?
On Saturday evening, both Berrettini and Zverev were near untouchable on serve. Zverev put 81 per cent of first serves into play and won 82 per cent of those points. Berrettini put only 68 per cent of first serves into play but won 86 per cent of those points.
Both men had impressive winners-to-unforced errors ratios: Berrettini 35-22; Zverev 34-23 in a reflection of the quality of the match. They made a combined 60 approaches to net.