Matteo Berrettini on course to make it a DOUBLE Italian celebration on Sunday after beating Felix Auger-Aliassime to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals
- Matteo Berrettini is on course to make it a double Italian celebration on Sunday
- Berrettini is just one match away from a place in the Centre Court showpiece
- The 25-year-old won his quarter-final with Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-3
- He will now face Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz – the conqueror of Roger Federer
- Italy’s football team have booked their place in the Euro 2020 final
- Find out the latest Euro 2020 news including fixtures, live action and results here
Matteo Berrettini finds himself one match from setting up a huge Sunday double for Italy on opposite sides of London.
While up at Wembley the footballers will contest the final of the Euros, down in the South West he could emerge as his country’s first ever male finalist at Wimbledon.
First the strapping 25-year-old will need to take out Hubert Hurkacz, the man who downed Roger Federer, but history beckons.
Matteo Berrettini (above) is on course to make it a double Italian celebration on Sunday
Berrettini got within one step of it when he was forced to battle hard to defeat young Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-3, not completing his task until well into Wednesday evening.
The Italians are more accustomed to producing decent clay court players, and have not had a man in the last four on the grass since Nicola Pietrangeli in 1960.
Yet few players possess the serve and forehand combination of Berrettini, which in terms of pure power may be the most potent one-two punch on the tour right now. That always kept him in the match against Auger-Aliassime, who proved admirably difficult to break down.
‘Its crazy right now, I think we made a great match,’ said Berrettini. ‘ He’s probably one of my best friends on tour so it’s never easy to play against him. When we did quarantine in Australia (back in January) we practised for two weeks together so we know each other’s games as well. Today was really tricky, but I’m happy.
The 25-year-old won his quarter-final with Felix Auger-Aliassime (above) 6-3, 5-7, 7-5, 6-3
He will now face Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz (right) – the conqueror of Roger Federer (left)
‘Felix was playing sometimes better than me during the match but I asked myself to be tough.’
He was well aware that arranging that double date for the capital’s large Italian population will not be easy when he tackles Hurkacz.
‘Hubert is having a great season, beating Federer in straight sets means he is playing well but I am confident,’ added the world number nine.
If Italy’s football team are definitely on an upswing then the same can be said of their tennis players, albeit in a sport of lesser significance.
The country has a deep tennis tradition, but these are unusually good times in terms of producing elite talent in the men’s game and it is Berrettini who has been in the vanguard.
He arrived in the UK after making the last eight of the French Open, and immediately added to his reputation by winning Queen’s to set himself up perfectly for a run in SW19.
His profile was only added to by his role as chief cheerleader to his girlfriend, Ajla Tomljanovic, when she faced Britain’s Emma Raducanu in their fourth round of the women’s singles.
While Italy’s football team have booked their place in the Euro 2020 final at Wembley
Auger-Aliassime has done a lot this fortnight to show why so much has been expected of him since his mid-teens. After a few seasons of standing still there is clearly much upside to his athletic, baseline game and his adjustments on grass augur well for the future.
Few have been able to withstand Berrettini’s assault in the past few weeks, but the 20 year-old came back after losing the opener, and often looked more likely to win the pivotal third set until he cracked right at the end of it.
With what had been a vibrant crowd beginning to drift away ahead of the big kick-off the Italian never looked certain to win, which was a credit to his opponent.
His ace count, at only 12 for the match, told of how these courts are slower than those of Queen’s because his serve is still a fearsome weapon, hitting a top speed of 139mph.
With Hurkacz almost capable of reaching similar velocity the Centre Court is likely to see some scorch marks when they meet on Friday.
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