Matteo Berrettini: wiser, a new approach on grass, and serious Wimbledon contender

by   |  VIEW 8017

Matteo Berrettini: wiser, a new approach on grass, and serious Wimbledon contender
Matteo Berrettini: wiser, a new approach on grass, and serious Wimbledon contender

Matteo Berrettini has arrived at Wimbledon with a monster of a serve and loads of confidence. Italy’s top player has progressed to the third round at the All England Club and is almost through to the second week of the grass slam, defeating Botic van de Zandschulp in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(4).

He’s also one of the top contenders to challenge the heavy favorite, Novak Djokovic, for the title.

Here’s why he’s considered by many a top challenger in only his third Wimbledon.

Berrettini’s booming serve Matteo’s got one of the most intimidating serves around. Although the serve-and-volley tactic is seen less and less every year at the grass major, the Italian’s formidable serve puts him at a strong advantage against his opponents.

Berrittini employed this weapon most impressively when he won the title at Queen’s Club just the week before, serving at a winning percentage of 91 on first serves in the final against hometown favorite Cameron Norrie.

Although he’s serving just slightly below that in his first two matches at Wimbledon, with an 83 percent first serve win rate against Guido Pella in R1 and van de Zandschulp, he’s also increased his number of aces with a dominating 20 compared to the 18 he hit in the Queen’s final.

He's got a new approach for grass The Queen’s Club title win was Berrettini’s first at the tournament—his fifth ATP win—and the first Italian player to gain the title there.

His second title on grass (in addition to his 2019 Stuttgart title), the 25-year-old Italian equaled an important stat with tennis legend—and commentator—Boris Becker, the first to secure a Queen’s title in his debut outing there (Becker’s first ATP title, in fact), 36 years ago.

Only 17 at the time, the German would surpass this feat by winning his maiden slam at Wimbledon, the youngest male player to do so at the time. Berrittini would love to equal such a stupendous summer himself. Becker offered advice to the Italian while they ran into each other at the All England Club.

“He walked by and he was like ‘congrats, now we have something in common’ and I was like ‘oh wow,’” described Berrittini, about their chance encounter. “I said thanks but then said, ‘you still won a little bit more than me – I’ll try to catch up but it’s going to be tough.’ “He told me to keep my mind easy, don’t lose energy about stuff that’s not important,” Berrittini continued, according to the Evening Standard (which printed that Becker had won his first Queens and Wimbledon 26 years ago when it was indeed 36).

Despite Berrettini’s success on the surface, it’s surprising to note that he didn’t familiarize himself with grass until the late age of 17, the age that Becker won his first Wimbledon. This may not, however, be such a bad thing.

Having not grown up with the surface, Berrittini can employ a fresh perspective towards the green stuff that is allowing himself a different perspective.

“On the clay, for example, you have time to think where you should play, where you should hit the ball,” he said.

“On the grass, you don’t have that time”.

Berrettini’s mental game is all-focus Berrettini’s has come to the All England Club with a markedly different mental focus that has freed up his physical game.

“From my first practice on grass for Queen’s my coach said, ‘you just decide and go’ without overthinking, otherwise the ball is passing your racket,” Berrittini said. “I’m a guy that thinks a lot.

On grass, I can’t, I’m just following the flow”.

His girlfriend, Croatian player Ajla Tomljanovic—who also advanced to the third round at Wimbledon—talked about his mental game in an ATP interview, as well as his impressive road to success.

“I actually think what’s most impressive about him is his mental side. Obviously, his serve, his forehand, his game is great. But I think the way he approaches the game mentally, how he deals with adversity on court during matches [is most impressive],” Tomljanovic said.

“I think he just learns from every defeat, every tough moment he has in his career.

You can see that the next time he’s grown from it, and he learns, and he really uses that time to recognize, ‘Okay, what was wrong? What do I need to do better?’” Tomljanovic continued.

Peaking at just the right time Matteo Berrittini is looking to improve his best slam showing, which occurred at the 2019 U.S.

Open semis, before running into the freight train of Rafael Nadal on the way to his 19th slam trophy.

“I’ve got better physically. At that US Open, I was in a hurricane, I was so happy, I was just trying to keep my feet on the floor,” Berrittini said about facing Rafa at Flushing Meadows.

“Now I would be wiser in general to face things and play deep into a two-week event. “Queen’s gave me a lot of confidence about my level, my weapons and the fact is the other players know I’m tough especially on this surface with my serve”.

His serve at Queen’s was off the charts, clocking in an intimidating 140 mph oftentimes.

Berrittini got as far as the fourth round in 2019, but believes his increased stature on the surface will only improve his chances this year at Wimbledon.

“Sometimes you win also with the confidence that you feel in yourself.

Today, especially in the third set, I used that as a weapon to overtake him,” Berrittini said after his win in the second round, via “I know that I have the level [to go far]. I have the weapons. Also, the mental mindset to get there”.

The world No. 9 has a lot of confidence and certainly has the assets to go far.

But will he be able to translate his incredible gifts into a first slam success? That is a question that only Matteo Berrittini can answer as he gets closer to the second week of Wimbledon.

Matteo Berrettini Wimbledon

Simona Halep's ex-coach recounts 2019 Wimbledon final win over Serena Williams

Sally Bolton OBE on Wimbledon 2023: "We enjoyed a really special Championships"

Matteo Berrettini reassures fans: "I'm recovering from the injury"

Matteo Berrettini announces diagnosis after scary US Open injury

Matteo Berrettini opens up to his true feelings: "I'm a different person"

Laura Robson details why Novak Djokovic racket destroying at Wimbledon was 'nice'