It’s been a fantastic year for Italy’s Matteo Berrettini. Coming off his best clay court season to date, he’s showcased his versatility at adapting his powerful game across all surfaces. Having always impressed on grass, it was no surprise to see him win the Queen’s Club Championships in his debut appearance. With the Wimbledon Championships kicking underway, the Italian is looking to be a strong title contender.
Matteo Berrettini: The Next Wimbledon Champion?
Matteo Berrettini has the game to take down anyone. His monstrous serve is a formidable weapon on the grass, and we saw this in full effect at Queen’s. Berrettini was broken twice in his first match, but then went on to hold serve 46 times in a row. He remained unbroken for the rest of the tournament. This is a seriously impressive stat, and it’s going to be tough for anyone to really challenge his serve. To back up this enormous serve, he has an absolutely monstrous forehand.
Undoubtedly, these are phenomenal weapons that he possesses. What makes his forehand so destructive across all surfaces is his ability to crush the ball so strongly with a relatively short backswing. Many powerful players have struggled to play well on grass as they require a large backswing to generate so much power. Berrettini’s 6’5″ frame and broad shoulders play a big role in his ability to effortlessly swat the ball away, while still generating impressive accuracy.
What Berrettini has shown this year is that his game doesn’t just revolve around his power. His all-round play is what’s helping him reach the highest level. He displayed some extremely impressive net play at Queen’s, often dominating at the forefront of the court. His height combined with his agility enables him to be a serious presence when finishing points off. This combined with his excellent groundstrokes to come in off make him very tough to beat.
His intelligence during points has also improved a huge amount. When Berrettini burst into the top of the men’s game in 2019, it was clear he was a serious talent. However, he would often rely on bludgeoning the ball at every chance he got. Much like the improvements of Dominic Thiem, Berrettini is learning when to go for his shots and when to play smarter tennis. He’s playing with far more variation by implementing beautiful slices, drop shots, and lobs, highlighting his ability to play smart shots at the right time.
What’s Holding Him Back?
As with every player on tour, Berrettini does have his weaknesses. His backhand is certainly not as prominent as his forehand, which top players will be looking to attack at every opportunity. This isn’t to say his backhand is poor by any means. The Italian hit plenty of backhand winners at Queen’s and the French Open. His problem off this wing is simply consistency. When he’s attacking with his backhand it’s still a brutal shot that does huge amounts of damage.
If the Italian is being stretched defensively on the backhand side, then this is when the weakness can be exposed. Though this may be a problem, he’s excellent at making up for it. Against Cameron Norrie in the Queen’s Club final, Berrettini wasn’t at his best at all with his groundstrokes. He made plenty of errors off both wings and struggled a great deal to defend with his backhand. Despite this, he still broke Norrie’s serve multiple times and wasn’t broken once.
As his career progresses he will no doubt need to make adjustments and find ways to improve this. But, the fact that he can utilize the rest of his game well enough to stop this being a problem is highly impressive.
Can He Go All The Way At Wimbledon?
It’s no doubt a very tough ask for him to win the entire tournament. This is especially true as he’s yet to reach a Grand Slam final. The World #9 isn’t far off this though, having already reached the semifinals of the US Open and the quarterfinals of the French Open. In 2019, when he faced off with Roger Federer in the Wimbledon 4th Round, he froze up and was unable to play his best on the big stage. Berrettini is a different player now though, and he will be far more confident against the top players this time.
Novak Djokovic is of course the overwhelming favorite to win Wimbledon. If Berrettini gets through all his matches, he is likely to play the world #1 in the final. Defeating Djokovic at Wimbledon in his first Grand Slam final would be a monumental task, but there’s a reason many are considering him a title contender.
Berrettini’s power can do plenty to hurt Djokovic. If he can keep implementing the variety of shots we’re currently seeing from him, then he’s certainly in with a chance. With powerful players like Berrettini, the match can often be won or lost on their racket. To win the whole tournament and beat players like Djokovic, the Italian will have to serve at his absolute best consistently, and make very little errors off either wing.
The Italian’s first round was a tricky encounter with former Wimbledon quarterfinalist Guido Pella. Despite some nervy moments, Berrettini came away with a solid 6-4 3-6 6-4 6-0 win. The 7th seed wasn’t at his best at first, but grew into the match and blew Pella away in the fourth set. He’s certainly finding his feet on the Wimbledon courts.
The maturity and cool head on the Italian’s broad shoulders are helping him reach new heights. If Matteo Berrettini can keep up his high level of tennis and remain solid mentally, then he has every chance of lifting the Wimbledon title this year.
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