Andy Murray will have done much more than resist Matteo Berrettini. The Briton even managed some of the best points of the match, to make Ivan Lendl smile, which is no small feat. But in the end, it was Matteo Berrettini who answered the winner’s interview.
On paper, this might seem logical. The Italian was a top 10 until recently, while Murray, somehow, is making his way into the top 50. But the Roman is coming back from injury and did not have a perfect preparation before this US Open ( two early losses in Montreal and Cincinnati). As it was hardly better on the side of Murray, the lack of benchmarks of the two men could balance the debates.
This was the case at the start of the match. Often behind in his little footwork, delicate with his backhand, Berrettini was far from shining. Murray’s game plan was also clear, to attack the backhand. A winning tactic that earned him to dominate the exchanges as long as they lasted more than five moves. Berrettini, he could count on his service (18 aces for a single double fault). With regular peaks around 217 km / h, he martyred the return of Murray. A break to lead 4-3 was going to be enough to complete the first set.
Murray holds the trade, but Berrettini serves the game
In the process, Berrettini broke from the start in the second set. So guilty of too much passivity, he let Murray immediately come back. The Briton was revived and then showed all his intelligence and fighting spirit. Intelligence by going to provoke Berrettini on his strong blow, the forehand, before opening the court and concluding on the backhand side.
His fighting spirit by fighting on all the balls, like this passing at the end of the race forward when he was defending on his line a few seconds earlier. Fans liked Berrettini a little less. In the ninth game of the set, he decided enough was enough. He tightened the game, made the effort on the legs and he went for a new break (5-4). Behind, Murray collapsed, leaving the Italian to conclude the set on his serve.
Matteo Berrettini had five breaks. But the Italian had 15 chances. This lack of success also explains his difficulties in the match.
The game seemed to be on, but Murray didn’t see it that way. Somehow, he hung on. He didn’t let go and he pushed Matteo Berrettini to a tie-break. The Italian started it perfectly with a mini-break following a lightning forehand. But behind, he completely liquefied, not winning any of his services and multiplying gross faults. Abandoned by his forehand, he saw Murray rob him of the third set. And his service from the first game of the fourth. Stunned, Berrettini? Not really. He started by erasing his handicap in stride.
He then tried to keep the ball in the court, despite an obvious lack of lucidity after 3h30 of play. And as in the first two sets, he was superior at the decisive moment. At 4-3, service Murray, he made the effort in return. The important thing was to get the ball back in the court and get Murray to play. Winning tactic and break. Finishing on his serve was just a formality. In pain, Berrettini is in the eighth of the US Open where Alejandro Davidovich Fokina awaits.