Matteo Berrettini made history Wednesday at the US Open becoming just the second Italian man in history to make the semifinals at the season’s final Slam. The 23-year-old outlasted Gael Monfils in a wild finish 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(5) to equal Corrado Barazzutti best run in 1977.
The 25th-ranked Berrettini has never won a match before at the US Open, but using his huge serve, big groundstrokes and bully size, he kept his nerve late in a crazy finish which saw five late-match double faults from Monfils and four missed match points by Berrettini.
“It’s my first semis,” Berrettini said. “I never won a match here in US Open, so it’s my second year in the main draw. I didn’t expect that. I’m pretty, I don’t know, excited for that.
“Also, for the match, I had so many chances. I served for the match. I had two match points and then he did an ace. Was unbelievable fight.”
The 3-hour, 56-minute marathon also had a roof closure, coaching violations and complaints from the players about the lack of light.
But Berrettini was too strong over Monfils who was trying to get back to the semifinal stage in New York, and also stay even with girlfriend Elina Svitolina who faces Serena Williams tomorrow.
“I’d like to say congrats to Gael,” Berrettini told the crowd. “When I was playing I was thinking it was one of the best matches I had ever seen. I was playing, but I was watching, too. I’m really happy.
“I was pretty lucky I had match points and he didn’t have any. It’s better to have them. I was a bit tight but you didn’t see it.
“I’m really proud of myself. It’s a great job for me, my team and my family.”
Up next for Berrettini will be none other than Rafael Nadal who won a baseline war against Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 7-5, 6-2.
Nadal blew big leads of 4-0 in the first and 5-0 in the second but avoid a total collapse and simply overpowered the Argentine for an 8th straight time.
“He’s one of the best players of the world. When he’s playing well, he’s able to win against everybody,” Nadal said. “Tonight was for me tough match. I’m very happy for the victory.”
Berrettini and Nadal have never played.
“I think he’s the greatest fighter ever in this sport. It’s unbelievable he’s doing,” Berrettini said. “I admire him, like, the way he’s on the court, you know. Like his attitude is something that it’s — I think it’s close to the perfection. He’s always, like, 5-0, 40-Love down, he’s always there. It’s something that’s not that easy to do. So bravo.”
Said Nadal, “He is hitting huge. Big, big serves. Big forehands. Moving well and is super confident… He is a player who is making big steps forward, so it will be another big challenge.”
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