Matteo Berrettini: 'Roger Federer was my tennis idol, I loved him almost divinely'



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Matteo Berrettini: 'Roger Federer was my tennis idol, I loved him almost divinely'

Due to an injury that has been bothering him since the end of the previous season, world no. 8 Matteo Berrettini has played only two matches so far in 2020 at the Australian Open. Due to a current situation caused by a coronavirus pandemic, Matteo is spending time in the USA, working on physical preparations while being isolated at home with his girlfriend Ajla Tomljanovic.

In an interview for the Sky Sport, Berrettini had the opportunity to cover different aspects of the game and his life, talking about the days without tennis and other interesting things he was asked. Matteo repeated that Roger Federer was his idol while growing up, watching the Swiss winning all those tournaments and producing elegance and style on the court.

Still, the Italian admitted he stopped with that once he faced Roger for the first time at Wimbledon last year, playing two matches against the 20-time Major champion in 2019 and learning a lot from both despite finishing on the losing side.

The Rome native had a fantastic previous year that propelled him towards the ATP Finals debut, making remarkable progress since the end of April to earn the ATP Most Improved Player of the Year honor. He cracked the top-10 at the end of October as the fourth Italian player since 1973 despite losing nine of the first 15 ATP matches of 2019, finding his A-game during spring and improving his game to even become a Major contender.

With five straight ATP defeats, Matteo went to Budapest and overcame a deficit in the final against Filip Krajinovic to lift the second ATP title that couldn't come in the better moment. A week later, the Italian advanced into another final in Munich, entering the top-35 and reaching the last 16 at home in Rome for more success on clay.

Switching to grass, Berrettini competed at his first ATP tournament as the top-30 player in Stuttgart and delivered rock-solid tennis to topple five opponents and lift the second crown of the season, facing two break points in the entire week for a dominant run towards the trophy!

Matteo was the semi-finalist in Halle, reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon before slowing down a little bit, returning stronger at the US Open and using a favorable draw to secure the first Major semi-final, ousted by Rafael Nadal in straight sets.

After the semi-final result in Shanghai, the Italian was in contention for the place at the ATP Finals but that dream almost vanished in Paris after Jo-Wilfried Tsonga took him down in the second round, struggling with an injury and having to wait for the results of his closest opponents to secure the London berth.

Matteo's fate was in Denis Shapovalov's hands, with the Canadian defeating Gael Monfils who had the opportunity to ensure his place at the premium ATP event ahead of the Italian. As always, Gael cracked under pressure and lost 6-2, 6-2, propelling Berrettini towards the ATP Finals for the first time.

In London, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer proved to be too strong for Berrettini who closed the action with a win over Dominic Thiem, adding 200 points to his tally and heading to the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid where Denis Shapovalov and Taylor Fritz defeated him in close encounters.

"My tennis idol is Roger Federer, I loved him almost divinely," said Berrettini. "He won everything when I was a boy, combined with great elegance. When I started competing against him, I stopped cheering for him. If he was to win the gold medal in Tokyo, that would be fantastic, it would be a Roger thing."