Matteo Berrettini was a name so few expected to see in the final of the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart. That is not to dispute the fact the he is an excellent prospect on grass, despite only winning one main draw match on the surface prior to this week.
Berrettini dominant on serve
The Italian No.2 arrived in Germany at a career-high ranking of World No.30 after landing yet more personal milestones this year, but that will now change for the better as he tamed Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime in the championship match at the Stuttgart Open 6-4 7-6 to clinch his third ATP tour-level title and his first on grass. Berrettini will now rise to No.22 in the world when the new rankings are updated on Monday, which translates to a remarkable jump–especially when you consider he broke inside the Top 100 for the first time only last May.
He won all 50 of his service games during the week, replicating a feat he achieved when he clinched his maiden ATP title in Gstaad last July. That win at the Swiss Open propelled one of Italy’s brightest young talents to new heights. He beat then-world No.17 Roberto Bautista Agut in that final and ended the year ranked World No.54. Berrettini picked up where he left off in 2018 as he made an electric start during the first quarter of 2019. He reached the semifinals in Sofia, knocking out Karen Khachanov and Fernando Verdasco en route. In March, he elected to compete at the Challenger event in Phoenix, and he won the title as he took advantage of an early loss in Indian Wells.
It was on the red dirt, however, that he flourished in 2019. After capturing his second tour title on clay in Budapest, he went on to reach the final the following week at the BMW Open in Germany, losing out to an inspired Cristian Garin. Overall he compiled a 12-4 record during the European clay swing and notched an excellent victory over World No.5 Alexander Zverev at the Italian Open. Despite a frustrating French Open loss to the unseeded Norwegian youngster Casper Ruud, he has clearly carried his strong form to the grass.
Before this year, Berrettini’s only main-draw win on grass was in a frenetic five-setter against American Jack Sock in the first round at Wimbledon in 2018. But judging by his outstanding triumph in Stuttgart, you would never know of that abysmal record by his level of play. He disposed of Nick Kyrgios with embarrassing ease before earning his second top 10 scalp when he knocked out the second seed Karen Khachanov.
‘’This week I’m playing really well. I’m feeling really comfortable on the court,” Berrettini explained shortly after beating Jan-Lennard Struff to advance to his first final on grass.
With a slight grin, he continued, “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.”
The 23-year-old who hails from the Eternal City was a domineering presence throughout the week on La Reppublica–one of Italy’s major tabloids from Rome. They called it a perfect triumph and that they have unearthed a grass specialist.
Service breaks were at a premium as Berrettini faced only two during the entire week and none of those came in the semifinal or final. He averaged over 89% of first serve points won during the tournament owing to his explosive serve and a disciplined power game.
Berrettini will make the short trip to Halle with plenty of momentum. Who knows, maybe this endearing young talent has been unearthed as Italy’s new grass court specialist.
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