Berrettini To Play Felix In Stuttgart Final
Matteo Berrettini had never reached an ATP Tour semi-final on grass before this week’s MercedesCup, but you’d never know it by his play.
The No. 2 Italian defeated home favourite Jan-Lennard Struff 6-4, 7-5 on Saturday to reach his third championship match of the season and his first-ever on this surface. Berrettini has held all 39 of his service games this week. And although he faced his first two break points of the ATP 250 tournament, he was not phased.
“This week I’m playing really well. I’m feeling really comfortable on the court,” Berrettini said. “Since last year I think I’ve improved a lot on grass. Last year I didn’t like it so much. That was the key.”
Berrettini will play #NextGenATP Canadian sensation Felix Auger-Aliassime for the title after former World No. 3 Milos Raonic withdrew before their semi-final due to a lower back injury. In their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting, Berrettini will try to lift his third ATP Tour trophy and Auger-Aliassime will attempt to capture his first in his third final of the year.
“He’s a great player. He’s in his third final this year and for sure he’s playing really well,” Berrettini said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing what’s going to happen. I never played him, I just practised once [with him] here for the first time. I think it’s going to be a great game and I’ll try to do my best.”
Berrettini faced a tough test in Struff, who was fresh off a run to the fourth round at Roland Garros. The German has also earned three of his five Top 10 wins this year. But the Italian won all but four of his first-serve points (33/37) to set the tone, breaking once per set to secure his triumph after one hour and 14 minutes.
Berrettini also reached the final in Munich on clay earlier this year, and he will try to lift his first trophy in Germany on Sunday.
“I like Germany. This is my second final here this year,” Berrettini said. “The crowd was for sure helping [Struff], but it was helping me also. I really enjoyed it.”
Auger-Aliassime will try to win his first ATP Tour title when he faces the Italian, having fallen just short in the Rio de Janeiro and the Lyon finals.
“It’s just tough to see Milos having to withdraw. He’s one of the best guys on Tour. He’s always been great to me since I first arrived on Tour when I was a junior,” Auger-Aliassime said on court. “It’s tough to see him go out that way but at the same time it is what it is and I have to try and get ready for tomorrow’s final as best as I can.
“It’s been an unbelievable week for me. I’ve been playing good tennis. I got through on the edge yesterday and to be in another final, it’s unbelievable. So I think I’ll try to enjoy it and give everything also because it’s obviously my third final this year, so I’ll try to give it my all to maybe get my first title.”
Raonic was disappointed to not be able to compete, and he apologised to the crowd on court.
“I’m very sorry and apologetic that I’m unable to compete today. I was hoping for the best after my match yesterday,” Raonic said. “I woke up this morning not feeling my best. I wanted to come out here and give it a try. And after looking at it very diligently with my team, and the way I was feeling with my back, I found it was not possible for me to compete without taking any greater risk.”
Did You Know?
This is Auger-Aliassime’s first professional grass-court tournament, and when he reached the semi-finals he became the youngest player to reach the last four at tour-level on three or more surfaces in a season since 1999 when Lleyton Hewitt did it.