Berrettini Reflects On His Breakthrough
Italian swept singles and doubles trophies at 2018 Gstaad
Earlier this month, Matteo Berrettini made his major breakthrough at the US Open, becoming just the second Italian man to reach the last four in New York after Corrado Barazzutti in 1977.
The 23-year-old’s run that was ended by eventual champion Rafael Nadal, earned Berrettini a career-high No. 13 ATP Ranking and was the latest success in an impressive 2019 campaign. The Rome-born star advanced to three ATP Tour championship matches in the opening six months of the season, lifting titles in Budapest (d. Krajinovic) and Stuttgart (d. Auger-Aliassime) alongside a runner-up finish in Munich (l. to Garin).
But the confidence to achieve those results came from a breakthrough week at last year’s J. Safra Sarasin Swiss Open Gstaad. Just 14 months ago, Berrettini entered the clay-court ATP 250 event aiming to reach his first tour-level quarter-final with no doubles victories on the ATP Tour to his name.
Ranked No. 84 in the ATP Rankings, Berrettini arrived without his coach, who had taken a vacation week. But that didn’t stop the Italian from producing his best tennis, defeating three consecutive seeded players to take the singles trophy, before adding the doubles title to his collection later in the day.
“[Gstaad was an] unbelievable week. I won singles and doubles there and I had never won an ATP Tour doubles match, so it was all in a rush,” said Berrettini. “I will never forget that week. I was really enjoying it. Of course, I liked the city and the crowd. A lot of Italians came to watch the matches, so it was really fun.
“I enjoyed playing there. I liked the conditions, altitude and the clay courts. It was an unbelievable week. I look back and I smile a lot.”
It took some time for Berrettini to process what he had achieved during his week at the ATP 250 event. But the Italian’s success in the south west of Switzerland proved the springboard to a stellar 2019 season on the ATP Tour. Berrettini has already compiled a 34-16 tour-level record this season, eclipsing last year’s personal-best 19-19 mark.
“It was an unbelievable feeling [to win the title]. My family were watching the match and all my friends, my coach from Italy,” said Berrettini. “I was just really enjoying the moment and then, after a few weeks, I realised what I did.
“That week I really realised that I had the level to play against the best guys in the world. That is, for sure, an important thing to a young guy that is growing up.”
As the 6’5″ right-hander prepares to return to action at the St. Petersburg Open, ranked 49 positions higher than his 2018 debut appearance at the Russian event, Berrettini is thankful for the support of his family as he continues to climb the ATP Rankings.
“My family never pushed me, but they put the racquet in my hands,” said Berrettini. “They always helped me a lot during these years. I have to say thanks to them.”
Arriving in Russia in ninth position in the 2019 ATP Race To London, Berrettini has the confidence and added motivation needed for a successful week in St. Petersburg. Having learned many lessons since his 2018 success in the Swiss alps, can the Italian make another move in his rapid climb to the top of the game this week?