Berrettini stretched all the way in first match since Wimbledon final

The world No 8 needed two hours and 20 minutes to overcome a spirited challenge from Albert Ramos-Vinolas to advance to the third round in Cincinnati

Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 6, 2021 Italy's Matteo Berrettini in action during his semi final match against Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut

If Matteo Berrettini was expecting to ease into the summer hardcourt season, he was in for a rude awakening at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati on Tuesday.

Playing his first match since losing to Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final and recovering from a thigh injury, the Italian was extended to three close sets and needed two hours and 20 minutes to overcome the spirited challenge of Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the second round of the Cincinnati Masters.

The fifth seeded Italian overturned the loss of the first set in a tie-breaker to defeat Ramos-Vinolas 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-5 and will next meet either next play 12th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime or Olympics silver medalist Karen Khachanov in the third round.

“I fought every point, I tried to put myself in conditions where I could win the match. That’s what I’m most happy about” – Berrettini

Matteo Berrettini, ATP Cup, 2021
Matteo Berrettini

Berrettini is enjoying his best season on the tour despite a couple of injury breaks. The Italian also suffered an abdominal injury during the Australian Open in February, forcing him to pull out of his fourth-round clash against Stefanos Tsitsipas in Melbourne and did not return to the tour until Monte-Carlo in April.

Since then, the 25-year-old has racked up impressive results, winning Belgrade, reaching the final in Madrid, the quarter-finals at Roland-Garros, winning the Queen’s Club and reaching his first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon. While he has climbed back to his career-high ranking of No. 8, he is now ranked fourth in the ATP Race to London.

Tuesday’s encounter was his first since reaching the Wimbledon final with a thigh injury keeping him out of the Tokyo Olympics.

“I’m happy for the win. I think I served really well. My strokes from the baseline weren’t working the way I wanted them to, but I knew from the beginning it’s been a long time since I played a match, especially on hard, so I expected to feel a little bit weird,” Berrettini said as quoted by the ATP Tour. “But the most important thing was I was there, I fought every point, I tried to put myself in conditions where I could win the match. That’s what I’m most happy about.”

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