London | Berretini makes Italian tennis history
Matteo Berrettini, with the Nitto ATP finals moving to Turin in 2021, became the first Italian to win at the end-of-season event when he overcame semi-finalist Dominic Thiem 7-6(3) 6-3.
I was able to stay mentally focused, especially in the first set, I played a great tie-break, so I’m very happy with my performance Matteo Berrettini
Compatriots Adriano Panatta and Corrado Barazzutti lost all their three round-robin matches in 1975 and 1978.
But Berrettini’s consolation victory in each player’s final group match ensured he created history.
The eighth seed, who started the year outside the top 50, said: “I’m really proud of myself, but more for my team, my family, my friends. It’s been an unbelievable season. I didn’t expect to be here at the beginning of the season. It wasn’t a goal. It’s just crazy that it happened. hope to come back here next year.
“I always had great fights against Dominic. I was able to stay mentally focused, especially in the first set, I played a great tie-break, so I’m very happy with my performance.
“It was a great week. Before the week started my team, we talk a little bit and said to each other ‘let’s enjoy it’.”
The 23-year-old, who made his first Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open, broke Thiem for 5-4 in the opening set but failed to serve out as his Austrian opponent broke back. But he won the opening four points of the tie-break, which gave him his foundation to hit the front.
Berrettini needed just the one break in the second set to help seal the match, completed in 78 minutes.
Fifth seed Thiem, 26, who stunned second seed Novak Djokovic to seal his last-four spot, said: “I think of course I felt a little bit the two first matches, and then also it’s a bit of a tricky situation to know that I’m already through.
“So all the attention, the adrenaline is set down a little bit. Of course I was still trying to win that match 100%, but also, in the same time, I knew in my head that I have to take care for Saturday, because obviously it’s the way more important match there.
“It’s also after a long season, so I really try to get the body going 100% for Saturday, and wouldn’t be that smart if I would have another three hours’ match.”
Meanwhile, the lone Brit’s debut is over. Londoner Joe Salisbury and American partner Rajeev Ram, the fourth seeds, were pipped 6-7 6-4 (10-7) by second favourites Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Brazilian Marcelo Melo in the doubles.