It was one of those years for Matteo Berretinithe kind where you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
The Italian started 2022 in style with a career-best run Australian Open semifinals. In February, he retired midway through his first-round matchup against American Thomas Paul in Acapulco due to abdominal pain. After Indian Wells, he sustained an injury to his right hand that required surgery and forced him to retire from the clay court swing. Berrettini was just getting back on the pitch, winning nine straight games and back-to-back titles at Stuttgart and Queen’s Club when he tested positive for COVID-19. Wimbledonwhere he would have been one of the favorites was suddenly out.
“I started to think it was like a prank or something, a joke, because I was feeling pretty good,” said world No. 15 Berrettini at the last week National Bank Open Presented by Rogers. “It was really tough. I was alone. I have been quarantined. There was no one to hug or watch a movie with. I was just in my room trying not to think about what was going to happen but thinking about the future.”
For Berrettini, who dropped his opener against the eventual title list Pablo Carreno Busta in Montreal, 6-3, 6-2, that future is now. A great result this week at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati would do wonders to put him back in contention for a spot at the end of the year Nitto ATP Finals. He is currently 13th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin and will have his work to do from the first lap. On Tuesday the 12th seed will open against Frances Tiafoe. He hasn’t played the American since 2018, when he won a first-round decision on clay 6-3, 7-6(1) in Rome.
In addition to a personal best in the fourth round WimbledonTiafoe, No. 25 on the Pepperstone ATP rankings, has played some of his best tennis matches on home soil this year, reaching quarterfinals in Houston and Washington and a semifinal in Atlanta.
“I’m finally starting to play really well again,” said Tiafoe. “I struggled a bit there. injured earlier this year [elbow]. I was struggling. I didn’t play badly, but I didn’t play like I was at the end of last year. Out of Wimbledon I thought I play really good tennis, have a lot of great wins to get that momentum back.
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If anyone knows anything about injuries, they do Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka. As fate would have it, the multi-grand slam champions will clash in the first round in Cincinnati in what will be their 22nd career encounter (Murray holds a 12-9 lead in ATP Head2Heads). Former world No. 1 Murray of Great Britain has of course had two hip surgeries, while Switzerland’s Wawrinka has only recently returned after recovering from surgery on his left foot (hence his 306th place). He has only played 10 games at tour level in 2022 (3-7), his best result being a round of 16 in Rome.
Both players found success on the hard courts at Queen City, Ohio. Murray clinched the title in 2008 and 2011, while Wawrinka reached the quarterfinals or better four times.
Three-time Major titleholder Murray, currently No. 47 in the Pepperstone ATP rankings, is hoping a deep run in Cincinnati will earn him a seed US Open.
Other notable games on the Tuesday table include: Denis Shapovalov vs. Grigor Dimitrov, Holger Rune vs. Cameron Norrie, Karen Khachanov vs. Sebastian Korda, Aslan Karatsev vs. Brandon Nakashimaand Roberto Bautista Agut vs. Francisco Cerundolo.