Italian men's tennis has been buzzing lately, with seven men having started out in the main draw. With nextgen sensation Matteo Berrettini having won the Stuttgart Open in addition to the Hungarian Open earlier this year, and with Turin having won hosting duties for the ATP Finals next year, many are calling it a "Renaissance of tennis" in the European peninsula.
Matteo cracked the Top 20 just prior to the start of the grass slam and he remains the last Italian man left in the draw. The nextgen talent fought hard through his third round with Diego Schwartzman, who has defeated other top players in the past, 5-7(5), 7-6(2), 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-3.
The world No. 20 Berrettini now faces his biggest challenge at Wimbledon: a confident Roger Federer, going for his ninth title. "It would be amazing... playing against Roger in Wimbledon is an experience I would tell to my children in the future", said Berrettini at the start of the grass slam.
At age 23, the Rome native remains one of the younger generations who have progressed this far in the tournament. On the same day that Berrettini booked his round of 16 spot, the top-ranked Italian player, Fabio Fognini crashed out, in straight sets to American Tennys Sandgren, 6-3, 7-6(12), 6-3.
Their third round match was scheduled on Court 14, a placement that did not sit well with the Italian. World No. 10 Fognini's rant was picked up by the mic, who angrily expressed, "It's fair to play here? Damn English, really.
Damned, really. "Wish a bomb would explode on this club. A bomb should explode here." It's a shame that the Sanremo native is leaving the tournament after such an outburst. Fognini has put in a highly disciplined, excellent season that saw him achieve his first Masters 1000 title at Monte Carlo and become the second Italian man to crack the Top 10.
Thomas Fabbiano, ranked No. 89, also went out in the third round, on Friday, losing to Fernando Verdasco, 6-4, 7-6(1), 6-4. The 30-year-old from Grottaglie was a surprise finalist against Sam Querrey at Eastbourne, a big warm-up event prior to Wimbledon.
He was responsible for the shock knock out of world No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the first round of SW19. Andreas Seppi went out during the second round, while Lorenzo Sonego, Paoli Lorenzi, and Andrea Arnaboldi each lost their first-round matches.
However, Italian men produced excellent results during the clay season, a surface where they excel at. No other country has more men's players in the ATP Top 250, and the country even boasts the youngest player in the ATP Top 400, Jannik Sinner, who is only 17 and ranked No.
201, who has been labelled the "future of tennis." "This boom in men's tennis is the next step in a process that began with the golden age of the women followed by the development of SuperTennis," Italian Tennis Federation president Angelo Binaghi said, referencing the popularity of the tennis channel.
For four decades, men's tennis has taken a back seat to the women's game. Names such as grand slam champions and finalists Francesca Schiavone, Flavia Pennetta, Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani, are referred to as the women's gold age.
With teenage sensations such as Lorenzo Musetti and Jannik Sinner, last year's French Open semifinalist Marco Cecchinato, and nextgen talent Berrettini, the future of Italian men's tennis is very bright. Fognini will likely bounce back after such a lapse in judgement in this third round match.
Continue to keep an eye on all these men in future tennis events. Matteo Berrettini's R4 match against Federer will take place on Monday.