Matteo Berrettini had a breakout year in 2019. Just how well did the year go for the young Italian? Let’s look at what he’s done.
Matteo Berrettini in 2019: Breakthrough year
Ranked outside the top 50 at the beginning of 2019, the Roman would have been long odds against making the ATP Finals. That he managed to become the first Italian man to win an ATP Finals match proves that Berrettini had an exceptional year.
Grand Slam Performance Improvement
Berrettini’s year didn’t start particularly well, however. A first-round defeat in Melbourne was disappointing. The fact that it came at the hands of Stefanos Tsitsipas only looks good in retrospect.
The Italian made it a round further at Roland Garros, where he was seeded for the first time, but really began to make strides in the major tournaments at Wimbledon. Berrettini made it into the second week after outlasting Diego Schwartzman in the third round. In the end, all that effort led only to a chastening lesson from the Swiss master, Roger Federer. Berrettini won only five games across the three sets, but many will look back on that match as the making of him.
The next chance to right that wrong at a Grand Slam level came at Flushing Meadows. Berrettini responded with a convincing run to the semifinals. This included a thrilling five-set epic win over Gael Monfils in the quarterfinals. The semifinal against Rafael Nadal may have ended in a straight-sets defeat but Berrettini really challenged the eventual champion over the first two sets and showed that he was finally prepared for the biggest stages.
Outstanding achievements in 2019
Outside of the Slams, Berrettini added to his list of tournament successes.
In March the Roman had a morale-boosting victory on the Challenger circuit in Phoenix. The five matches that led to this success were his only matches on the Challenger circuit in 2019, but proved pivotal in supplying the confidence to win titles. He defeated Mikhail Kukushkin in a tight three-setter, winning two tiebreaks to take the title. Knowing this supplies extra context to the likes of the Monfils win later in the year.
Berrettini was still ranked outside the top 50 when he won his second-ever ATP title in April. He defeated Filip Krajinovic in three sets in the final of Budapest. This clearly spurred him on as he went on to reach the final in Munich the following week, losing to Cristian Garin in a third set tiebreak.
However, Berrettini only had to wait until June for a second ATP title of the year. The Italian didn’t drop a set in the whole week in a dominant display in Stuttgart, defeating another young tyro Felix Auger-Aliassime in the final. The final itself featured a dramatic second-set tiebreak, which ended 13-11 to Berrettini.
The ATP Finals
More consistent good results towards the end of the season (SFs in Shanghai &Vienna) saw Berrettini qualify for the ATP Finals.
The Italian was very quickly out of contention to qualify from the group, however. Novak Djokovic was able to get hold of the Berrettini serve and make inroads into it at will. He fared slightly better against Federer but still succumbed to straight-sets defeat.
It was a fitting end to an excellent season though when Berrettini was able to defeat eventual finalist Dominic Thiem.
What should be the aims in 2020?
Matteo Berrettini should be expecting to win more titles in the forthcoming season. ATP 500 and Masters tournaments should be well within his compass.
It would be a successful season if he could maintain his top 10 ranking by the end of 2020. In addition, a consistent Grand Slam set of results (Quarterfinals and beyond in at least two of the four) would constitute a step forward.