The 25-year-old Italian Matteo Berrettini should have been among the title favorites at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. World no. 8 and the Wimbledon finalist will not travel to Tokyo, though, skipping his first Olympic Games due to a muscle strain.
Thus, Berrettini joins Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem on the list of notable absences from the Olympic Games, taking more time off the court following his first Major final and gathering energy ahead of the American swing.
Struggling with an injury, Matteo played only three tournaments in the opening three months before winning the title in Belgrade and reaching the Masters 1000 final in Madrid. Following the Roland Garros quarter-final defeat to Novak Djokovic, Berrettini claimed the Queen's crown and headed to Wimbledon as one of the favorites.
Scoring six wins, the Italian advanced to his first Major final, where he faced the 19-time Major winner Novak Djokovic. Despite giving his best, Berrettini suffered a 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 loss after three hours and 23 minutes, playing well but failing to match the rival's pace.
Taming his strokes nicely, Novak lost serve twice and produced six breaks that carried him over the top and towards the sixth Wimbledon trophy in the past ten editions. Matteo bounced back from 5-2 down in the opening set, fended off a set point and claimed the set in the tie break for a massive boost.
Starting all over, Novak delivered three comfortable holds at the beginning of the second set and two early breaks for a huge 5-1 lead. Matteo pulled one break back in game eight and fended off set points in the next one to extend the battle.
Matteo Berrettini will not defend the Italian colors at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
With no room for errors, Djokovic held at love in game ten to wrap up the set and make things more relaxed for him. Both players claimed 28 points in the third set, and Novak secured the most essential ones to take it 6-4 and move closer to the finish line and the 20th Major crown.
The Italian hit a double fault at 3-3 in the fourth set, and it was one of the pivotal moments of the entire final. Novak confirmed the advantage with a hold in game eight and earned a match point on the return in the next one.
Matteo saved it with a volley winner and erased another with a forehand down the line winner to stay alive. Novak converted the third match point to seal the deal, defend the title and write history books. "I am extremely disappointed to announce my withdrawal from the Tokyo Olympic Games.
I had an MRI scan yesterday on the thigh injury I sustained during Wimbledon and was informed I will not compete for a couple of weeks. Representing Italy is the biggest honor for me, so it is devastating to miss the Olympics.
I wish the entire Italian team the best of luck in Tokyo. I will be supporting you all the way," Matteo Berrettini said.