Former Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini surprised himself by beating fellow Italian Lorenzo Sonego 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(7), 6-3 on Thursday to belatedly reach the second round.
Berrettini, beaten by Novak Djokovic in the 2021 final, has struggled with an abdominal injury this season, and came into the grasscourt Grand Slam with modest expectations.
After a battle spanning three days, however, he emerged victorious to set up a clash with Australia’s Alex de Minaur.
“I’m glad that I won this match because a few days ago I didn’t think it was possible,” he told reporters.
“I didn’t know if I was ready or not. I didn’t practise much. Like what you’re supposed to do before a tournament, before a Grand Slam.
“At the same time, my will to play was bigger than my preparation. Unless you try, you’re never going to know. Sometimes in the past I stopped before because I felt my body wasn’t ready. This time I kind of forced it a little bit. Now I’m feeling good.”
After narrowly losing the opening set on Tuesday and being forced to wait a day to resume the match due to persistent rain, the 27-year-old broke for a 5-3 lead in the second set with a rocket forehand winner before drawing level.
Berrettini raised his level in the third-set tiebreaker to tighten his grip in fading light on Wednesday when both players decided to stop because of failing light and a slippery court.
Resuming at 1-1 in the fourth set, Berrettini cranked up the pressure in the sixth game with some delightful winners on both sides to grab the crucial break and the world number 38 held firm to go through.
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