Matteo Berrettini hopes to repeat Italy’s heroics in London at Euro 2020 by securing a place in the Wimbledon final as he prepares to take on Hubert Hurkacz… the towering star is standing tall as he bids to make history
- Matteo Berrettini became the first Italian to reach a Wimbledon semi since 1960
- He will face Hubert Hurkacz on Friday as he targets a place in the final
- The 6ft 5in star hopes to emulate the Italy football team’s heroics in London
- He is ‘proud’ to make history in SW19 and now wants to break more records
England were still six years off winning the 1966 World Cup the last time Italy produced a Wimbledon semi-finalist.
So Matteo Berrettini’s contribution to a great week for the Azzurri in London should not be underestimated as he tries to operate in parallel to his national football team this weekend.
Berrettini takes on Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in the semi-finals and a win would make him a very tasty afternoon warm-up act for Sunday night’s drama.
Matteo Berrettini hopes to smash more records after reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals
He will be looking to emulate the Italian football team’s heroics in London by reaching the final
He has already emulated the 1960 feat here of Nicola Pietrangeli, held in sufficient esteem back home that they named one of the most beautiful courts at the Foro Italico, Rome’s historic tennis venue, in his honour.
‘It makes me really proud thinking that it has been 61 years. My father this year will be 59, so he was not even born then,’ said the tall powerhouse from Rome with the 140mph serve.
‘I have done a really beautiful thing. I will try not to stop here. For now, tennis history is being written and I am the protagonist. Bello!’
Berrettini will now face Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz (right) – the conqueror of Roger Federer (left)
One thing that will definitely emerge today from the two semi-finals is a new men’s Wimbledon finalist. In a year which is seeing the dominant Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as fading forces, a certain renewal is finally starting to take shape.
The immoveable object is Novak Djokovic but what will happen in the next few years is the emergence of less familiar names to challenge him at the biggest events.
One of them may be Hurkacz, the cheerful 24-year-old from Wroclaw who has already removed the two figures in the bottom of the draw who were scheduled to make the final.
First he took out Daniil Medvedev and then he brought about the subsidence of Roger Federer on Wednesday.
Hurkacz and Berrettini both fit the new template for successful modern men’s tennis players — standing at 6ft 5in and able to slam down serves that regularly exceed 135mph.
The towering tennis star is the first Italian to reach a Wimbledon semi-final since 1960
These days, such athletes move well for their height and are adaptable enough to play on the grass. It is notable that the last three men’s finalists at SW19 who broke through the field from a lower seeding (Marin Cilic, Milos Raonic and Kevin Anderson) were all at least 6ft 5in.
Djokovic will start as strong favourite against the blond Canadian Denis Shapovalov, but ought to be tested more than he has been so far.
In the Serb’s favour, as if he needed help, is that rain may dictate the match is played under the roof.
The 22-year-old left-hander’s hope will be to hold serve and put Djokovic under the kind of pressure he has not had this fortnight. That might yet induce thoughts of the 20th Grand Slam title that is now within reach.
Djokovic knows that if he does not equal the record of Nadal and Federer here, there are likely to be other chances.