ATP Finals Preview - Matteo Berrettini: New Roman emperor?

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ATP Finals Preview - Matteo Berrettini: New Roman emperor?

The 23-year-old Matteo Berrettini become the 169th player to crack the top-10 on the ATP ranking list since 1973 in the last week of October, joining Adriano Panatta, Corrado Barazzutti and Fabio Fognini as the fourth Italian on the exclusive list.

2019 has seen no changes at the top of men's game, with Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer as the leading figures, although we had six new players in the top-10, the highest number since 2006 when there were eight newcomers in the elite group.

The Rome native made a rather slow start of the season, shifting into a higher gear during the spring swing and maintaining a high level to find himself among the best players in the world and book place at the ATP Finals.

Matteo couldn't make any progress until the last week of April, which makes this feat even more impressive, dropping nine of the first 15 ATP matches of the season and remaining in the top-60 thanks to a strong Challenger title in Phoenix, earning 125 points there between early exits at Indian Wells and Miami.

Heading to Budapest with a negative streak of five losses on the Tour, Matteo found his 'A game' when he needed it the most, overcoming a deficit in the final against Filip Krajinovic to lift the second ATP title that could not have come in the better moment.

Next week, Berrettini played on a high level in Munich as well, losing a tight final to Cristian Garin but earning enough points to crack the top-35 and continue his rise through the list. Defeating Alexander Zverev in the second round, Matteo advanced into the last 16 at home in Rome and went to Stuttgart as the top-30 player, delivering incredible tennis to storm over five opponents and lift the second crown of the season, facing two break points in the entire week!

David Goffin halted the Italian in the semi-final in Halle before that terrible loss to Roger Federer in the fourth round at Wimbledon, taking some time off and returning stronger at the US Open where he used the favorable draw to notch the first Major semi-final, ousted by Rafael Nadal in straight sets.

With two more top-10 wins under his belt in Shanghai, Berrettini reached the semi-final to move another step closer to the top-10, preparing everything to crack the elite group with the semi-final run in Vienna, beating Kyle Edmund, Grigor Dimitrov and Andrey Rublev before losing to Dominic Thiem, picking up 180 ATP points and staying in contention for the London berth.

That dream was almost crashed in Paris, losing to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second round and waiting for the results of his opponents to check the London ticket. It all came down to the quarter-final clash between Denis Shapovalov and Gael Monfils who had the opportunity to beat the young Canadian and secure his place among the elite eight in London.

As always, Gael cracked under pressure and lost 6-2, 6-2, propelling Matteo into the ATP Finals for the first time, becoming the third debutant after Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas. If he delivers his best tennis, Matteo should be a tough opponent for anyone in the draw, eager to prove why he got the opportunity to play in London and fight for massive points that every victory brings.