For every winner, there has to be a loser, and while Novak Djokovic’s sensational performance to land his sixth Wimbledon crown and 20th Grand Slam title made all the headlines, spare a thought for his opponent Matteo Berrettini, who had the dream of a grass-court double snatched out of his hands.
Nonetheless, when Berrettini looks back at the last few weeks, he may have to pinch himself. To win at Queen’s earlier in June was a remarkable achievement, but to carry that form into Wimbledon with such ruthless power and hunger for success was even more impressive. He won’t have been on the slips of many people betting on tennis before Wimbledon began, but he has certainly made a name for himself, and you can bet he’ll be back contesting another showpiece on Centre Court very soon.
Berrettini arrived at Queen’s off the back of a good showing at the French Open, ultimately losing to Djokovic in the quarter-finals. He was the top seed for the grass-court event, and produced some stellar form to go all the way, beating Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie in the final. That clearly gave him the confidence to go on and do well.
In many ways, Berrettini’s style of play is perfectly suited to grass. He has a big serve, and gets plenty of power behind his forehand. He also favours the backhand slice, which is a shot well suited to grass as the faster surface allows the ball to skim lower to the ground than other courts. It’s all well and good having those weapons in your arsenal, but Berrettini proved he has the tactical nous to utilise them at the right moments.
The Italian certainly endeared himself to the Wimbledon faithful. He has an infectious smile and personality, and the way he plays the game with speed and power is hugely appealing to the modern tennis fan. His victory at Queen’s meant he curried favour with the London crowd, even if it was Norrie who he defeated in the final, and that support carried over into Wimbledon.
By the final, he had most of Centre Court on his side, cheering him on against match favourite Djokovic. The Serbian was becoming visibly irked by the crowd’s support for Berrettini, and the chants of ‘Matteo, Matteo, Matteo’ rang long and loud into the SW19 afternoon. It wasn’t meant to be for Berrettini in the end, but he certainly made some friends in this grass season.
A bright future
The defeat to Djokovic, and the dashing of that maiden Grand Slam title, is certainly not the end of Berrettini’s journey. His style of play is such that you can imagine him getting better and better. He hasn’t been around the top of the game for long, and this experience of getting to a major final will stand him in good stead for the future.
He is a player comfortable on every surface, and few can match his mentality. While all the talk surrounding the future of men’s tennis seems to regard the likes of Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, don’t be surprised if Berrettini ends up blowing them all away.