Matteo Berrettini becomes first Italian to enter Australian Open semi-final, beats Gaël Monfils
Aus Open: Berrettini becomes the 1st Italian to enter the semi-finals | Photo credit: AP
Matteo Berrettini created tennis history by reaching the Australian Open semi-finals with a five-set victory over Gael Monfils on Tuesday.
The seventh seed defeated the French 17th seed in the quarter-finals 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 3-6, 6-2 to become the first Italian to reach the last four at the Open from Australia.
Berrettini, a Wimbledon runner-up last year, will now face 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal on Friday for a place in Sunday’s final.
“It’s amazing (to be the first Italian), hopefully there will be a second tomorrow with Jannik Sinner,” Berrettini said of his compatriot, who will face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
“I was really happy with myself, it was a great fight with Gaël, a great match, a lot of emotions.
“I thought I had it in the third set, but I found myself in the fifth. I really fought and put it all on the court.”
In a crushing 3 hour 49 minute night game on Rod Laver Arena, Berrettini, 25, grabbed a double break to clear in the fifth set after Monfils roared after two sets.
It was Berrettini’s sixth win in seven career five-set battles.
There were many drawn-out, attritional games, including a 20-minute game of Berrettini’s monumental 10-deuce serve to put him ahead in the 62-minute second set.
It means Monfils, 35, who won the Adelaide warm-up tournament and had not dropped a set in his previous four matches, again missed his first quarter-final in Melbourne since 2016 when he lost in four sets to Canadian Milos Raonic.
Monfils attributes his recent resurgence to the stabilizing influence of his new wife, Women’s World No. 17 Elina Svitolina. The tennis “power couple” got married in Geneva in July just before the Tokyo Olympics.