Matteo Berrettini, who had to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics with a left thigh injury that he sustained during Wimbledon, made a comeback on the ATP tour with his three-set victory at the Cincinnati Masters on Tuesday.
The 25-year-old Italian was made to work extremely hard in his two-hour 20-minute battle against an inspired Albert Ramos-Vinolas. The 2021 Wimbledon runner-up edged past the Spaniard 6-7(5) 6-3 7-5. He will now take on Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime in his upcoming Round of 16 encounter at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday.
Cincinnati Masters Round 3 Preview
The feature of Berrettini’s come from behind victory over Ramos-Vinolas was his precise serving. The Italian delivered 25 aces and was not broken even once in his three-set battle. That augurs extremely well for the 25-year-old as he aims to reclaim his top form and consistency from the grass court season.
Things were not straightforward either for Auger-Aliassime, who toiled hard for almost three hours against Olympic Silver Medalist Karen Khachanov. The 21-year-old Canadian managed to sneak past the Russian 6-7(5) 6-3 6-4 on Wednesday. Auger-Aliassime’s aggressive play was the difference against Khachanov. He can draw a lot of confidence from his victory over the Russian as he aims to secure his first quarterfinal berth of the North American hard-court season this year.
After a decent grass-court season, the Canadian fumbled in Washington D.C. and Toronto. He registered second-round and opening-round losses, respectively, before heading into the Cincinnati Masters.
Berrettini and Auger-Aliassime, who are good friends off the court, have locked horns against each other twice so far on the ATP Tour. Berrettini leads their duel 2-0. However, both those encounters came on grass. In their most recent meeting, at Wimbledon this year, Berrettini prevailed 6-3 5-7 7-5 6-3.
Aggressive play, aiming for winners, and immaculate serving helped Auger-Aliassime bail himself out against Khachanov. He must resort to the same approach if he fancies getting past Berrettini on Thursday. Berrettini has a tremendous forehand and will aim to push the Canadian deep behind the baseline with his poweful groundstrokes. Wary of his forehand, Auger-Aliassime must look forward to peppering the Italian’s backhand to control the long rallies.
Matteo Berrettini vs Felix Auger-Aliassime
In a battle between two remarkable servers with tremendous forehands, it will be intriguing to witness who blinks first on serve. While Auger-Aliassime has greatly improved over the years, the Canadian’s game is still relatively inconsistent, which can haunt him dearly against Berrettini.
In his comeback match since the Wimbledon final, Berrettini did not show any signs of injury concerns. But it remains to be seen how his thigh copes up with the grind of long matches, especially with the US Open just around the corner.
Can Berrettini continue his winning run against Auger-Aliassime? Or will the latter, putting on a show of breathtaking tennis, upset the 5th seed?
An enticing battle under lights awaits us at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday!
Main Photo from Getty.