Matteo Berrettini’s message to Novak Djokovic when asked about possible Wimbledon rematch

Tennis: Andrew Castle on Sue Barker and the Queen's cup

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Matteo Berrettini says he is a ‘better tennis player now’ after he won the Queen’s club championship. The Italian star was beaten by Novak Djokovic in the 2021 Wimbledon final and has sent a powerful message to the Serb ahead of a potential rematch in SW19 in 2022. 

Despite winning a first set tie break, the 26-year-old was defeated 6-7 6-4 6-4 6-3 by the 20-times major winner in 2021. It was Berrettini’s first ever major final, which eventually became evident as the world no 11 made a number of unforced errors as Djokovic took control of the match. 

Grass court specialist Berrettini has suffered from a hand injury over the course of this year – but has recovered to hit form again ahead of the biggest major of the season, beating Djokovic’s countryman Filip Krajinović in the Queen’s final. He also won the tournament in the build up to the 2021 Wimbledon Championships and spoke about his final defeat after the match.

“I wasn’t really able to sleep, I was barely eating,” The Italian explained. “The tension was a lot. The pressure and everything… It was great. It was a great moment, a great memory. But if I’m going to reach the final this year, I’m going to be more ready. I know what to expect. I know what I’m going to feel so it’s about experience.

“I feel I’m a better tennis player, because I have more experience now.”

Berrettini is likely to be seeded eighth at the all England Club with Djokovic as first seed. This gives the pair a 25% chance of being drawn in the same quarter and hence they could meet in the last eight. There is a 50% chance they could be in the same side of the draw which would mean a semi-final clash or, failing that, they could meet again in the final. With the Italian’s current form and history of success on grass he will fancy his chances of going far in the competition. 

Berrettini underwent hand surgery in March to correct a long-standing injury. He has won both tournaments that he entered since his return, initially winning in Stuttgart before his success at Queen’s. Despite this, the Italian was not confident he has fully recovered from the injury before participating. 

“The week before Stuttgart, my hand was hurting, not the part that I got injured, but the rest of the hand: the callous, the wrist. The hand wasn’t strong enough,” Berrettini said.

“It wasn’t used to hit as many balls as I was hitting. And I was like ‘what if it’s not gonna be strong enough’ and my team gave me the confidence to go ahead, to push through that moment.

“I arrived in Stuttgart and I played just one set practice and it was against this kid, this junior. So didn’t really have a lot of match training and whatever. So there was a moment ‘I was like I’m here Stuttgart, maybe gonna play a couple of rounds if I’m lucky, then let’s see how it goes’. And look where I am now.”

Berrettini will be one of the favourites for the Wimbledon title when the tournament starts next week. He will hope that he can have an opportunity to avenge his defeat in 2021 by facing Djokovic again during the course of the tournament. 

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