A pumped-up Matteo Berrettini made a statement of intent Friday at the US Open, where he held his nerve to battle past former World No. 1 and 2012 champion Andy Murray 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(1), 6-3.
The Italian produced a dominant serving display to lay the foundations for his three-hour, 46-minute victory. He struck his aggressive forehand through the court to force Murray back and recovered from a mid-match dip, rallying from a break down in the fourth set to reach the fourth round in New York for a fourth consecutive year.
“You learn from the past and learn from mistakes,” Berrettini said when reflecting on the match in his on-court interview. “I wasn’t aggressive enough with the break points [in the third set] but that is tennis. I think Andy played a really good set in order to not get broken, but I was feeling better. I had more chances and I thought the same thing in the fourth set. I had my chance and I took it.”
Berrettini now leads Murray 3-1 in their ATP Head2Head series, having defeated the Scot in the Stuttgart final in June. The 13th seed, who reached the semi-finals in Flushing Meadows in 2019, holds a 15-4 record at the hard-court Grand Slam. The 26-year-old will look to taste more success when he next faces Alejandro Davidovich Fokina after the Spaniard defeated Colombian qualifier Daniel Elahi Galan 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.
Berrettini suffered first-round exits in Montreal and Cincinnati last month, but he has found his range in New York. The Italian moved past Nicolas Jarry and Hugo Grenier in his opening two matches and is currently up to No. 13 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin as he looks to finish the season strongly and qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals on home soil in November.
In front of a lively crowd on Arthur Ashe Stadium, Berrettini fired 18 aces and dictated play with his forehand. He gained the first blow in a series of lung-busting rallies and while he was unable to convert any of the eight break point chances he had in the third set, the Italian eventually wore down a resilient Murray in the fourth set to triumph.
“It is normal to get tight. That is what I told myself when I played here against Gael [Monfils], I double faulted on match point. It is normal. We care about this,” Berrettini said. “I told myself next time was going to be more brave in a way and that is what I tried to do in the fourth.”
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 2, 2022
Murray was aiming to reach the fourth round in New York for the first time since 2016, the season he ended as the year-end No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
The Scot defeated Francisco Cerundolo and Emilio Nava in his opening two matches and has climbed to No. 43 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. The 46-time tour-level titlist Murray was unable to consistently find his first serve against Berrettini, though, as he looked to capture his third Top 20 win of the season. Following his defeat, Murray’s five-year wait to reach the fourth round at a major goes on.
In other action, Karen Khachanov advanced to the fourth round for the first time after #NextGenATP Briton Jack Draper was forced to retire due to an injury between his hamstring and groin. The 27th seed Khachanov was leading a highly competitive clash 3-6, 6-4, 6-5 when play was stopped on Grandstand at the two-hour, 28-minute mark.
The 26-year-old will next face Montreal champion Pablo Carreno Busta or 18th seed Alex de Minaur.
Draper leaves New York holding a 42-14 record across all levels this season. The 20-year-old, who upset sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in the second round on debut at the major, is fifth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Milan. The Briton is aiming to qualify for the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals for the first time this year.
“It’s been a really positive week for me,” Draper said when reflecting on his recent success. “This is my second Slam on merit. It’s very different playing the five-set matches. Beaten a couple of really good players, and I felt like today I was coming back. I would have had a chance to win that match if I was injury free. I think in terms of reflecting, I can be very positive about the year I’ve had so far as well.”