Matteo Berrettini defeats Hubert Hurkacz to become first Italian to reach Wimbledon final

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The Italian beat his Polish opponent – who had never made it past the third round of a grand slam – 6-3 6-0 6-7 6-4 in a match that lasted more than two and a half hours.

Berrrettini and Hurkacz reached the semi-finals on Friday hoping to be the first men from their respective countries to reach the final at the All England Club.

It was Berrettini – appearing in his second Grand Slam semi-final – who handled the opportunity the best of both players.

The game looked like a bastard when Berrettini won the second set to love in just over 20 minutes, but Hurkacz rallied well in the third to turn the game into a real fight.

In the end, that wasn’t enough as Berrettini leveled up further to clinch the fourth set and reserve his place in the first grand slam final of his career.

“Thank you, I have no words,” Berrettini said after the game. “Really… I need a few hours to figure out what happened. I played a great game, I enjoyed the crowd, my family and the whole team are there. I think I never dreamed of this because it was too much for a dream I’m very happy.

“After the third set I felt I deserved to win it, but I lost it. I said, ‘It’s okay’, I felt like the strongest player and that’s what I said to myself and finally it paid off.

“So far it’s the best tennis day of my life, but I hope Sunday is even better. I have chills but I do, so I have to believe it.”

No nerves

Hubert Hurkacz could not come back after two sets.
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The first set started off smoothly and there was certainly no sign of dominance of a player to come.

Hurkacz managed to hold 0-40 beautifully in just his second service game and, at the time, it looked like it could be a big moment.

However, Hurkacz was shattered two serves games later, with Berrettini punctuating the break with a stunning forehand while chasing his opponent’s smash, surely one of the tournament shots so far.

Berrettini won all the remaining matches of the set and Hurkacz, incredibly, wouldn’t win another for nearly an hour.

Whether it was because Berrettini rose a level or Hurkacz struggled under the pressure of the occasion – most likely a combination of the two – the second set ended in the blink of an eye.

When Berrettini rushed to a 5-0 lead, it meant he had won nine straight games and that semi was in danger of pulling away from Hurkacz faster than any of Berrettini’s serves.

The crowd desperately tried to lift Hurkacz up, cheering every time he won a point. He also attempted to stand up, clenching his fist gently whenever he showed brief flashes of the skill that had brought him to this point in the tournament.

Matteo Berrettini's serve was at times unstoppable in Friday's semi-final.

Despite this, he couldn’t win even a single match in the second set as Berrettini took a 2-0 lead.

The odds were now very high against Hurkacz, who had only returned once after two sets to win a best-of-five-set game of his career.

Fortunately for the crowd on center court, the third set was considerably more competitive than the second. When Hurkacz won his first service game to tie the third at 1-1, he shattered an 11-game streak for Berrettini and elicited a huge roar of appreciation from the 15,000 spectators.

Huge credit must go to Hurkacz for his improvement in the third set – certainly better players have withered in the past in the face of such a scoreboard – and by the time he reached a tie-break you felt that the momentum had suddenly shifted towards the pole.

Berrettini started to show the first signs of frustration when Hurkacz hit a winner over the head after a weak lob attempt, reaching out in amazement for his box.

Hurkacz opened up a 4-0 lead in the tie-break and comfortably saw it 7-3, while suddenly playing his best tennis of the competition so far.

However, that momentum did not continue into the fourth set as Berrettini – who took a tactical toilet break at the end of the third – shattered Hurkacz in his first service game.

Hubert Hurkacz rallied well to win the third.

From there, Hurkacz never seemed to level up.

As he stepped out to serve for the game, Berrettini would have drawn strength knowing he had won 150 of his 157 turf service games so far this year. The 158th would surely be the most nervous to date, especially after Berrettini hit his first double fault of the game on the first point of the game.

However, it turned out to be nothing more than a minor incident as the Italian regained his goal to finally overtake his gritty opponent.

The Italian will now face Novak Djokovic or Denis Shapovalov, who will play later on Friday, in Sunday’s flagship final.

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