Matteo Berrettini wins his first match in six and a half months

Matteo Berrettini is off to a winning start at the Phoenix Challenger

by Jovica Ilic
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Matteo Berrettini wins his first match in six and a half months
© Stream screenshot

Former world no. 6 Matteo Berrettini is finally back in action! World no. 154 entered a super-strong Arizona Tennis Classic Challenger in Phoenix, competing for the first time since last year's US Open. Berrettini faced Hugo Gaston in the first round and notched a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory in an hour and 40 minutes.

Matteo lost the opener before shifting into a higher gear, dominating the return in sets two and three and celebrating his first victory in six and a half months! The Italian fired ten aces and made the difference with his first serve.

Berrettini lost serve two times from three chances offered to his rival while turning 46% of the return points into eight breaks from 13 opportunities. Hugo wasted a couple of game points in the first game of the match and faced a break point after Matteo's fine attack and a volley winner at the net.

The Frenchman denied it and held, avoiding an early setback. The Italian closed the second game with a powerful serve, leveling the score at 1-1. Gaston clinched the third game at 30 and pushed strong on the return in the next one from 0-30.

Matteo saved the first break point with a service winner before facing the second after netting the slice. The Italian netted a forehand, losing serve and falling 3-1 behind. Hugo clinched the fifth game after deuce, landing a backhand winner and opening a 4-1 gap.

Matteo served well in the sixth game, closing it with a forehand winner and reducing the deficit.

Matteo Berrettini, Phoenix Challenger 2024© Stream screenshot

Gaston extended the lead with a hold at 15 in game seven, forcing Matteo to serve to stay in the set.

The Italian landed a service winner in the eighth game before the Frenchman wrapped up the opener with a forehand winner at 5-3 after 38 minutes. Berrettini made a fresh start in the second set, securing the first game after Gaston's volley error.

Matteo earned two break points in the second game with a volley winner and seized the first with a smash winner for a 2-0 advantage. The Italian held at love with a booming serve a few minutes later, opening a 3-0 gap and settling into a fine rhythm.

The Frenchman had to dig deep in the fourth game, facing six break points and denying them to remain within one break deficit after a service winner.

Matteo Berrettini is back in action after missing half a year.

Berrettini produced another reliable hold in the fifth game, forcing Gaston's mistake and moving 4-1 in front.

Matteo held at love in game seven with a booming serve, forcing Hugo to serve to stay in the set. Gaston held at 15 before Berrettini delivered his fifth comfortable hold of the set at 5-3, closing the set and forcing a decider.

With a boost by his side, Matteo clinched a break at the beginning of the final set, causing Hugo's error with a sharp return. Berrettini sprayed a backhand error in the second game, getting broken and bringing his rival back to 1-1.

The Italian played well on the return in the third game, attacking and landing a volley winner at the net for a break and a 2-1 lead. Matteo cemented the advantage with a hold at love in game four after a service winner, moving closer to the finish line.

A left-hander hit a double fault in the fifth game, offering his rival two break points.

Matteo Berrettini, Phoenix Challenger 2024© Stream screenshot

Hugo placed a forehand wide on the first, losing serve for the third straight time and falling 4-1 behind.

The Italian secured the sixth game with an ace, moving 5-1 ahead and forcing his rival to serve to stay in the match. Gaston sprayed another double fault in the seventh game, offering Berrettini two match points. Matteo seized the first, delivering his fourth consecutive break and celebrating his first win in six and a half months.

The Italian planned to start the season in Brisbane. He withdrew and missed the Australian Open right before his first-round match against Stefanos Tsitsipas. Matteo experienced a couple of setbacks in 2023, losing ground and missing all the action after the US Open.

Berrettini kicked off the previous season at the United Cup, earning two top-10 wins over Casper Ruud and Hubert Hurkacz before losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas and Taylor Fritz. Matteo experienced a blow in Melbourne, falling to Andy Murray 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-7, 7-6 in the first round after four hours and 49 minutes.

Berrettini wasted a match point and missed a chance to perform an incredible comeback. The Italian played a terrible backhand on a match point at 5-4 in the decider, keeping the Briton in contention. The encounter went into a match tie break, and Murray prevailed 10-6.

Matteo struggled physically in the upcoming months, missing all the action between Monte Carlo and Stuttgart.

Matteo Berrettini, Phoenix Challenger 2024© Stream screenshot

The Italian claimed only three games against his compatriot Lorenzo Sonego in Stuttgart, leaving the court in tears.

Matteo notched three wins at Wimbledon before losing to Carlos Alcaraz 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 in just over three hours. Berrettini played only five matches by the end of the season, retiring at the US Open in the second round due to a right ankle injury and staying away from the court for over six months.

After Phoenix, Matteo will use a protected ranking in Miami, hoping for a good run on the notable scene.

Matteo Berrettini
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