WATCH: Novak Djokovic’s Aggressive Celebration in Empty Stadium After Battling Past Matteo Berrettini at French Open 2021

Published 06/09/2021, 5:56 PM EDT
Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 9, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates winning his quarter final match against Italy’s Matteo Berrettini REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Tennis fans are just one match shy of witnessing yet another fascinating encounter between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. When Nadal defeated Diego Schwartzman in the French Open quarter-finals, it’s Djokovic’s turn to defeat Matteo Berrettini in the other quarter-finals to meet his long-time rival.


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Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 9, 2021 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in action during his quarter final match against Italy’s Matteo Berrettini REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Watch this story: Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic rivalry at French Open


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But, the Italian is no easy opponent to face. Even though Berrettini lost his only encounter against Djokovic, there was a significant improvement in his game from their last meeting.

With Roger Federer‘s withdrawal from Roland Garros, there was enough time for Berrettini to come up with a strategy to try and defeat the Serb.

Let’s see how the match progressed.

Novak Djokovic displayed high-quality clutch game to win the first set against Berrettini

As usual, the Serb started the match on the backfoot and gave a couple of break point opportunities to Berrettini. Once the Italian failed to convert any of the break points due to Djokovic’s clutch service games, the momentum shifted in favor of the 18-time grand slam champion.

Djokovic needed just one break point to race ahead to a quick lead of 5-2 in the first set. There were intense baseline exchanges between the two, but the Serb played the big points extremely well and denied any chance Berrettini got to consolidate the break.

After 52 minutes of high-quality tennis, Djokovic took the first set, 6-3. Apart from big-hitting, Berrettini couldn’t do much to stop the flow of the Serbian star. While Berrettini tried to employ a couple of drop shots in the beginning, it became difficult once the Serb began to strike the ball really well.

Djokovic continued the winning momentum even in the second set

Even in the second set, Djokovic got the initial break point after a vulnerable service game from Berrettini. The Italian repeated the same errors he made in the first set. Even though he had a break point on Djokovic’s serve, Berrettini’s untimely errors proved costly as the Serb took a lead of 4-2.

Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 9, 2021 Italy’s Matteo Berrettini reacts during his quarter final match against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Unlike the first, the second set witnessed points getting shorter with Djokovic displaying a wide variety of shots, adding to the frustration of Berrettini. The Serb consistently pushed Matteo with impeccable returns of serve while easing past his own service games in no time.

The Philippe- Chatrier crowd was rooting for Berrettini to break back but it was the Serb who got the double-break after the Italian failed to land a drop shot perfectly.

Serving for the set at 5-2, the world number one was not troubled by Berrettini anywhere as he took a two set lead against the Italian. The Nadal-Djokovic semi-final is one set shot of becoming a reality.

Novak Djokovic lost the third set in a tie-breaker against Berrettini

It’s a long way ahead for Berrettini as he began to serve the first game in the third set. With plenty of fans supporting him in the stadium, it’s high time the Italian to turn things in his favor. But, frequent errors kept hurting Matteo as he barely managed to hold onto his service games.

Serving at 1-2 down in the third, Djokovic made a couple of errors as the score leveled at 30-30. There was a huge roar of support for Berrettini to win the game from there. But, the Serb’s clutch game was right on point once again as he denied a break point opportunity for the Italian.

Matteo Berrettini was unable to create any pressure on Djokovic’s serve as the latter eased past his service games without much fuss. The Serb was just two games from reaching the semi-finals at the French Open.

At 4-4 in the set, Berrettini’s forehand errors proved costly on his serve as the Serb got a break point opportunity. But, the Italian hit an out-wide first serve to save the break.

With Djokovic still undefeated on his serve, the third set went to a tie-breaker. Both players upped the ante on their serves in the breaker as the score leveled at 3-3. It was Berrettini who got the mini-break as he hit a ferocious forehand down the line.

But, the Italian failed to land a drop shot yet again as he gave away the break point. Now, it’s in the hands of Djokovic to win the match on his serve. Even the greats make mistakes as Djokovic hit two unexpected forehand errors, and gave a set point to Berrettini.

Matteo Berrettini capitalized on the opportunity and hit an accurate first-serve to clinch the set, 7-6. The crowd clearly had a role to play in

Djokovic won the match after Berrettini saved two match points

The momentum clearly was with Berrettini at the start of the fourth set. The disappointing news was that the fans started leaving the stadium slowly owing to the curfew restrictions imposed in Paris.

But, a fair amount of fans held back to cheer for the Italian till the time they were forced to leave. The Serb’s level dropped in the set as he started making a lot of unforced errors from both the forehand and backhand wings.

There was a brief break to the match play as fans were asked to clear the stadium to follow the curfew.

Once the match resumed after a break of about 20 minutes, Djokovic had yet another quick service game to take a lead of 4-3. Even though Berrettini tried his best to hold on to his serve, there was drop in level from the Italian as he made untimely errors on serve at 5-6 down in the set.

The ninth seed faced a match point and saved it once again with a huge first-serve out wide. But, the relentless push from the Serb gave a second match point to him. The world number one blew it after an incredible forehand winner by Berrettini.

On the third match point, Djokovic sealed the semi-final spot after a backhand error from Berrettini. It was a high-quality match, especially in the last two sets. The Italian’s sloppy game proved costly in the end.


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With this victory, the Serb will face long-time rival Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals of the French Open 2021.


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Sagar Ashtakoula

376 articles

Sagar Ashtakoula is a tennis writer at EssentiallySports. He has been following the sport since 2007. Having developed an interest in creating content, he mixed his passion for writing with his love for tennis for 2 years at SportsKeeda before joining the tennis team at EssentiallySports.