Kicking off 2018 season with no ATP wins, the Italian Matteo Berrettini has made stellar progress in the last 18 months, cracking the top-30 and claiming three ATP titles from four finals. Matteo had scored only two ATP wins on grass before Stuttgart and no one could have noticed that this week, winning five matches in straight sets and facing only two break points against Ja-Lennard Struff to become a deserved champion, joining Stefanos Tsitsipas on three ATP crowns.
In the title match, the Italian took down Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 7-6 in an hour and 47 minutes, becoming the first Italian with an ATP title on grass in eight years after fending off five set points in the second set tie break.
The young Canadian played for the first ATP title and gave his best to stay in touch with an in-form rival, blasting 16 aces and repelling five out of six break chances, squandering those opportunities in the second set that could have prolonged the encounter for him and kept him in contention for the first success on the Tour.
On the other hand, Berrettini lost 14 points behind the initial shot, never facing a break point and delivering good serves when he needed them the most in the tie break to claim it 13-11 and cross the finish line without having to play the decider.
Matteo drew first blood in the third game when Felix netted an easy backhand, serving well in the rest of the set to take it 6-4 with another good hold and a volley winner in game ten after 32 minutes. Auger-Aliassime worked hard to fend off five break points in the early stages of the second set, staying on the positive side of the scoreboard to reach the tie break where he opened a 6-4 lead, only to waste both set points.
Serving at 6-7, 8-9 and 10-11, Matteo was able to find a strong initial shot, saving all five set points and prevailing with a mini-break in the 24th point when Felix failed to control deep return from the other side. Matteo is the sixth player of the new generation of stars born in 1995 or after with three ATP titles, joining Alexander Zverev, Nick Kyrgios, Karen Khachanov, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, making another big step towards the top-20 and hoping for more of the same at the upcoming Wimbledon.