Matteo Berrettini made history on Centre Court this afternoon when he became the first ever Italian – man or woman – to reach a Wimbledon final.
He was near faultless in the opening two sets against Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, backing up his power with a huge amount of finesse, and eventually winning 6-3, 6-0, 6-7, 6-4.
Berrettini took the first set with relative ease. He was taken to deuce four times on his third service game, but in reality was never again in any real trouble.
The opening set’s decisive moments came in the seventh game – the Italian producing some magic by first executing a wonderful running cross-court forehand following a poor smash, then benefitting from a net cord as he retrieved a lob.
When Hurkacz hit a forehand into the net, the number seven seed had the advantage at 4-3. It was the first of 10 successive games he would take. Berrettini then produced three service winners, including two aces, to consolidate at 5-3.
The Pole had earlier in the set been forced to save three break points, and by now Berrettini was showing his class – and his superior seeding position at these Championships.
He broke again in the ninth game as Hurkacz shanked a forehand long to give Berrettini the first set.
That seemed to have rattled the Pole, who was completely overwhelmed in the second set 6-0, first hitting a simple backhand into the net for 0-2 and then falling a double break down at 4-0.
In reaching the semi-finals Berrettini had equalled his best performance in a Grand Slam – after reaching the same stage of the 2019 US Open. His best performance had been the fourth round in the same year.
He’d dropped just two sets in his progress to the last four, and was in no mood to drop his level here.
His victory was all the more impressive seeing as his opponent, the number 14 seed, had also dropped just two sets on the way to the semis – during his epic five-setter against second seed Danil Medvedev in the fourth round.
Hurkacz had won the only meeting between these two going into this match – in Miami in 2019, but this was a different story.
Hurkacz stopped the rot in the first game of the third set, but Berrettini would not let up, and by now was showing the Centre Court crowd that his game is as much about touch as it is about power.
The Pole recovered in the third set, his serve returning to him just in time as he found some of his best form to take the tie-break, as the crowd rose to cheer what had just half an hour earlier looked an unlikely fourth set.
Berrettini responded by breaking to 15 in the first game of the fourth set but struggled as he just about held on to his serve in the following game.
The Italian was beginning to tire but he found a second wind to hold his serve throughout the fourth set and reaching the final.
He will face five-time champion Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final after he finally saw off Denis Shapovalov 7-6, 7-5, 7-5.
Matteo Berrettini celebrates winning the first set (Picture: PA)
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