Matteo Berrettini, an underrated NextGen talent

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Let’s discover an underrated young talent, Italian 21-year-old Matteo Berrettini.

To become a tennis player is not easy; there are a lot of sacrifices to make and in the end only few lucky ones manage to get through all these difficulties. One of the toughest passages to do is becoming a professional player and end the junior career. Some boys do it when they’re very young and this helps them a lot, some others have to struggle a lot, maybe because they are not physically ready, or maybe because it’s tougher in their country.

Matteo Berrettini is surely one to look for the upcoming future, but you could ask, “Why have we never heard of him then?” The answer looks pretty simple, though.

He didn’t have a great career when he was a junior, as he had multiple injuries. This can be considered a negative axpect but also a positive one, as nobody had hopes in him and he grew up slowly but with no pressure on himself. Berrettini struggled a lot in Italy’s ITFs until the end on 2015, when at 19 years old he won his first professional tournament.

Berrettini had another long injury at the start of 2016 and this forced him to stay off of tennis courts for about seven months, but then his career finally took off.

He continued to play ITFs until basically last year and this made his game stronger. At the end of last season he tried to play his cards on the Challenger tour too, and his hard work paid off as he reached the final in Andria in November.

He didn’t have the luck that some other players have–he couldn’t get easy wild cards, so he had to build his ranking day by day, tournament by tournament, on court.

Training with former Italian tennis player Vincenzo Santopadre, he’s finally finding his rhythm and is having his breakthrough year now in 2017. After good results in Switzerland’s Futures at the beginning of the year, he’s been playing only on Challenger tour, where he reached two finals, a semifinal, and two quarterfinals, but most importantly he picked up his first title in San Benedetto last July. He also had the opportunity to play a Masters 1000 at home, in Rome, winning a wild card. Yes, I said that right; tournament organizers didn’t gift him the wild card, but he had to earn it through pre-qualifiers. In the main draw he lost to Fabio Fognini in his first match.

Berrettini started the year as world #437 and now is almost 300 positions higher at #140 after his good results in the last couple of months. He’s #114 in the Race and in competition for the Next Gen Finals in Milan, where he’s actually in the 16th position. Even though he might qualify on his own, he will have a chance to showcase his talents no matter what–as the Italian tennis federation will be giving a wild card to the winner of a pre-tournament of Italy’s top eight NextGen players.

In May, at the end of his first round match against Fognini in Rome, he said: “I hope to be competitive against these kind of players in 3-4 years”, but things improved a lot since then and he’s been rising very quickly. This can only get better, now Berrettini is almost into the top 100 and seems that as soon as he reaches it he won’t leave it…

He is sure to be part of the game now; remember him.

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