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“I remember crying after he lost the finals in 2009 in Australia” – Matteo Berrettini, on growing up a Federer fan

Italy’s Matteo Berrettini is stepping into Roger Federer at Laver Cup this weekend. It’s an indescribable honour for the Italian, who grew up admiring the Swiss legend.

Berrettini Team Europe 2022 Laver Cup Roger Federer, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud and Matteo Berrettini ahead of Team Europe’s Andy Murray match || AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Stepping into Roger Federer’s shoes at the 2022 Laver Cup is one of the most daunting challenges that Italy’s Matteo Berrettini has ever faced.

“Biggest shoes I ever saw in my life,” the 26-year-old deadpanned before the weekend kicked off, in a pre-tournament press conference.

Now that Federer’s last dance has come and gone, Berrettini has stepped in and earned two victories to put Team Europe in a commanding position against Team World at Laver Cup, 8-4 after two days of play.

In between those two victories, the burly Roman stopped by the press room to talk about Roger Federer, and he shared his admiration for the Swiss maestro with reporters.

I’m not lying when I say that I’m here because of him. Like he was really the one that I was looking up to. He was the one that I was supporting, cheering for him. I was getting upset, I remember crying after he lost the finals in 2009 in Australia because he was crying.

— Matteo Berrettini on being inspired by Roger Federer

“I’m here because of him”

Echoing a sentiment shared by Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday, via social media, Berrettini said that he owes his passion for tennis to Federer, who inspired him when he was a youth.

“I’m not lying when I say that I’m here because of him,” Berrettini said. “Like he was really the one that I was looking up to. He was the one that I was supporting, cheering for him. I was getting upset, I remember crying after he lost the finals in 2009 in Australia because he was crying.

“So for me, living these moments is something really that means everything.”

Berrettini might have preferred to sit back and watch Federer play a full weekend of tennis, but when the Swiss elected to finish his career on Friday night alongside Rafael Nadal in doubles, the Italian was happy – and honoured – to take the torch.

“I was really pumped to step in and give my best,” he said. “I’m really happy obviously for the win, but I feel like this weekend we’re kind of celebrating something that is bigger than Laver Cup, than tennis. It’s just him.”

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