Matteo Berrettini tuned up for Wimbledon winning his second grass-court crown at Queen’s Club—and making history as the first debutant to capture Queen’s Club since Boris Becker in 1985.
Berrettini’s brush with Becker is deeper than the record book.
Practicing at Wimbledon last week, the Italian No. 1 walked past the Hall of Famer and was surprised that Becker recognized him.
The ninth-ranked Berrettini said Becker shared some advice he hopes to apply for a deep Wimbledon run.
“Of course it feels nice to hear my name close to him,” Berrettini said of Becker. “I think the best part was that I met him as soon as I got here. He was walking by. He stopped. I was surprised because he knew who I was. He made me feel good. He told me like, Well done. Now we have something in common…
“I was like, Yeah, I wish I have everything in common, like all the titles and stuff…He also told me I had to keep my mind clear to have a long run here. I’ll try to do that.”
The 2019 US Open semifinalist stopped Argentinean Guido Pella 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0 to reach the Wimbledon second round. Berrettini blasted 47 winners, including 20 aces, and faced just one break point showing the stinging serve, fierce forehand and the low slice backhand that make him a threat.
Berrettini will face 139th-ranked Dutchman Botic Van de Zandschulp in round two tomorrow.
The seventh-seeded Berrettini should benefit from the fact the three other seeds closes to him—No. 12-seeded Casper Ruud, 20th-seeded Aslan Karatsev and 28th-seeded John Isner—all fell in the first round. That means if Berrettini can keep his lawn roll going he would not face a seeded opponent until the quarterfinals.
“I know that I have the level, I have the weapons, like I said. Also the mental mindset to get there,” Berrettini said of making a second-week run. “But, as I think you guys could see today, every match is a fight, every match is really difficult.
“I have to go step by step now. I have to think about the match of tomorrow. Of course, I would like to have a long run, but step by step. I know I can do it, but I know it’s going to be tough.”
Photo credit: QueensTennis