Italy’s Matteo Berrettini continues to impress at the US Open

If there’s one consistent stone on the men’s tour, it’s Matteo Berrettini, who survived a five-set Sunday to reach his fifth consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Playing in the dampness of an 11 a.m. start in a packed Louis Armstrong Stadium, Berrettini dropped the first set, won the next two but then folded in the fourth set as fans fo-ki to his Spanish opponent sang Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Berrettini turned the tide with a dominant fifth to secure a 3-6, 7-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 triumph in just under four hours over the Spaniard, who defended with grace all afternoon.

After losing the opener, Berrettini grabbed a break in set number two before improving his power forehand game on a roller-coaster afternoon.

“I think he played a really good level of tennis,” Berrettini said. “I didn’t feel bad. It was just him [was] play better than me I kept believing in my game, in my shots. I was able to win the second set in the tie-break. Then it went up and down. Lots of moisture today. Sweat a lot. But in the fifth I felt good. The energy was good.”

Italy's Matteo Berrettini was consistent at this year's US Open.
Italy’s Matteo Berrettini was consistent at this year’s US Open.
Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Reaching the semifinals of the 2019 Open, Berrettini always lurks as a title contender because of his wild serve. But the pride of Italy is not quite finished yet.

He would have been a very strong competitor at Wimbledon but caught a bad case of COVID-19 during grass court rehearsals and withdrew.

“I was sick – I had a really high temperature,” said Berrettini. “I felt like all my bones were broken. I am very sensitive to COVID. It took me three weeks to get back in shape.

Obviously, I now have an additional motivation. I feel like this year has been tough, surgery, COVID. But here I am healthy again.”

In Tuesday’s quarterfinals, the Italian will face clay-court demon Casper Ruud, the first Norwegian to reach the Open quarterfinals and reach the French Open final. Ruud has beaten Berrettini in three of his five meetings.

“We have a similar game,” said Berrettini. “We like to run around our forehand, give the ball a lot of spin and are aggressive. I think the key is to be aggressive in front of him.

Lefty Corentin Moutet showed plenty of French fighting at Flushing Meadows to become the first lucky loser to advance to the fourth round of the US Open.

And that fight reared its ugly head after the final substitution on Sunday as Moutet trailed 5-2 to sixth-seeded Ruud.

Casper Ruud reacts after his US Open victory on Sunday.
Casper Ruud reacts after his US Open victory on Sunday.
Getty Images

Towards the end of the fourth set, Moutet was awarded a service clock violation, which he didn’t like at all. He addressed the chair umpire for three full minutes, claiming he simply needed a towel so he could hold onto the racquet on the muggy day.

He threw a tantrum and added a swear word because the referee completely ignored him. The lucky loser is a player who lost in the last qualifying round but was admitted due to an injury-related withdrawal.

“It was a match with a show here and there,” said Ruud.

With the eased restrictions on international travel, attending the US Open was a gold mine in its first week. Records are set, then broken.

On Saturday, the US Open broke its attendance record in a single day for the second straight year – with 72,065 fans attending the day and night sessions.

Saturday’s record attendance — 42,259 in the day session and 29,806 in the night session — surpassed the previous record of 72,039 set on Friday.

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