“I deserve to be here” – Matteo Berrettini hopes Wimbledon loss to Novak Djokovic will make him stronger

After his loss to Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final, Matteo Berrettini vowed to take the positives and keep learning from tough losses to the legends of men’s tennis.

Matteo Berrettini 2021 Wimbledon final

After Novak Djokovic finished off his 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 triumph over Matteo Berrettini in Sunday’s Wimbledon final, he paid tribute to his greatest rivals. The World No.1, who now stands even with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic atop the all-time men’s singles Grand Slam titles list with 20, said that he would not be standing at the podium holding a sixth Wimbledon and 20th major title had it not been for taking his lumps against his two arch rivals.

“I have to pay a great tribute to Rafa and Roger, they are legends of our sport and they are the two most important players that I ever faced in my career – they are the reason that I am where I am today,” Djokovic said on court. “They’ve helped me realize what I need to do in order to get stronger mentally, physically, tactically; when I broke into the top-10 for the first time I lost for three, four years, most of the big matches that I played against these two guys.”

Berrettini: I deserve to be here – I feel it

Berrettini can relate to what Djokovic went through. When he made his first trip to the round of 16 at Wimbledon in 2019, it was Federer who was there to teach him a lesson about top-notch tennis on the grandest stage in the sport. Asked after the match what he said to Federer at net when they shook hands after the match (won by Federer 6-1, 6-2, 6-2), Berrettini replied: “I said, ‘Thanks for the tennis lesson, how much do I owe you?’”

Fast forward a few years and Berrettini is taking his lessons from another GOAT candidate: Djokovic. The World No.1 knocked Berrettini out of the quarter-finals at Roland-Garros before taking the title, and on Sunday the awe-inspiring Serb was there to play spoiler again as he came back from a set down to end Berrettini’s dream of becoming the first Italian to ever win a Wimbledon singles title.

“It means that I’m there. It means that I deserve to be here.”

— Matteo Berrettini

After the match the 25-year-old was asked how he felt about having to go through the difficult process of facing the giants of men’s tennis at the end of every Grand Slam.

“It’s an honor for me,” Berrettini said. “I mean, I grew up watching these guys battling and fighting for the big titles. Now I’m the guy that is trying to take the titles away from them. US Open I lost against Rafa, and he won the title. Like I said in Paris, quarters against Novak…

“It means that I’m there. It means that I deserve to be here. I feel it. Today, again, Novak was the better player on court, but I’m getting closer. Every match that I’m playing against them helps me to get closer. Obviously they’re improving. It’s tougher and tougher to get there.”

Berrettini, while extremely disappointed that he couldn’t capitalise on his early advantage in the final, says he recognises the fact that facing the Big Three at the business end of major event is a rite of passage. He hopes the experience will force him to improve his game so that he can eventually be the one raising the trophy at the end of a Grand Slam event.

“I just need matches like this. I just need experiences like this,” he said. “That’s what we said to my team. Obviously, also this kind of anger, disappointment that I have now, it’s really helpful, is going to be helpful for the next events.

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