World Number eight Matteo Berrettini gave his career-best performance at Slams at US Open 2019 by reaching the semifinals. Towards the end of the 2019 season, Berrettini became the first Italian man to win a match at the ATP Finals by defeating Dominic Thiem in the round-robin. Growing up, the Rome-native idolized the Swiss legend, Roger Federer.
He recently talked about his very first match against the Swiss maestro. It was on Wimbledon’s Centre Court, Roger’s own backyard, in the fourth round of The Championships 2019.
Before coming into the tournament, Matteo was a hype during the grass season. He held an eight-match winning streak on grass, which included his title victory in Stuttgart. At the SW19 Major, after defeating Diego Schwartzman in five sets in the third round, the Italian met Federer in the next one.
Nervous, Berrettini got on-board to face his hero and ended up losing in a straight forward manner, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2, in under an hour. That loss left him in shambles. However, he took his defeat sportingly. Right after his one-sided loss, as Berrettini met Federer at the net he joked, “thanks for the tennis lesson, how much do I owe you?”
While speaking about the match, Berrettini recalled his previous training sessions with Federer.
“That’s why I [got] five games in three sets. I was happy to be there but too happy to be focused on the match. I remember that I was watching TV and cheering for him. I remember we did a warmup together in 2015 in Rome. I was 19, and about to play a Futures. I was shaking,” he told Tennis Majors.
At Wimbledon 2019, Borna Coric withdrew from the tournament before it began and his withdrawal eventually moved Berrettini into Federer’s part of the draw. After discovering that, Matteo had stopped cheering for him.
“Imagine if I had to play against him; but it was a goal for me playing against him, in that atmosphere on that court. I stopped cheering for him when I saw him in the same draw (for the first time). I’m like, ‘I cannot cheer for him when I’m in the same tournament.”
During the tennis tour suspension, Berrettini played numerous exhibition matches in Europe. The Italian played a phenomenal match against World Number six Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Ultimate Tennis Showdown finals in Nice, France, and lifted up the trophy.