Italian former runner-up Matteo Berrettini confirmed he is back in business after an injury-plagued year with a 6-3 7-6(4) 7-6(5) defeat of German 19th seed Alexander Zverev at Wimbledon on Saturday.
But for injuries that have lowered both their rankings, the clash would have happened much later than the third round, but it proved a treat for the Court One crowd.
Berrettini, beaten by Novak Djokovic in the 2021 final, had played only 14 matches this year leading into Wimbledon with an abdominal injury ruling him out of the Queen’s Club warm-up.
But he looked razor-sharp in a superb performance against 2020 U.S. Open runner-up Zverev who is on the way back after suffering a serious ankle injury last year.
After sealing victory on his third match point with his 15th ace, Berrettini said being back at Wimbledon after missing last year because of COVID-19 had rekindled his flame.
“I honestly don’t know. It feels unbelievable. It is something I didn’t think could happen. It must be something special about this place,” the 27-year-old said.
“I love to play here. Last year I missed it and I still didn’t heal from that withdrawal. This tournament changed my career, my life and I’m really happy.”
Amazingly, Berrettini has now played on every day of the tournament, with his previous matches being interrupted by the rain that continued to trouble the tournament on Saturday.
He will definitely need a day off now as his next opponent is Spanish world number one Carlos Alcaraz.
“I don’t think I have to say anything about Carlos. The first time I played him I felt this kid is special,” he said.
“But we always had great matches but like I said, I am enjoying every minute. Finally tomorrow I have a day off.
“I don’t know if I am going to play -- resting, having some pasta and getting ready for Carlos.”
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