Grand Slam defeats are always tough to take, but Matteo Berrettini is already preparing for next time.
The Italian World No. 7 threatened a comeback in his Australian Open semi-final against Rafael Nadal on Friday, but the Spaniard rode out the storm to complete a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 win on Rod Laver Arena. While disappointed with how the match went, Berrettini has picked up some key lessons for the future.
“It was the first time that I played under the roof,” Berrettini said in his post-match press conference. “It was different conditions. I struggled. At the beginning I couldn’t really find the rhythm. It took me a while to adapt, but at the same time Rafa was playing really well.
“I learned that you have to be ready any time. It’s a sport that you have to be able to adapt to everything that is happening. Today he was just way better than me.”
With 20 Grand Slam titles under his belt, Nadal is an obvious role model for Berrettini in his pursuit for further success. “Just look at the numbers,” said 2021 Wimbledon finalist Berrettini. “I don’t know how many semi-finals Rafa has played, but I know that he has more experience in this.
“We chatted a little bit in the locker room. He told me that it was a great run, and I told him again, bravo. It’s just really nice for me to talk to him and have this kind of conversation, because I’m still learning from him, and it’s good.”
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Berrettini was satisfied with his performances over the Australian swing despite the semi-final disappointment. Having never previously been past the fourth round in Melbourne, the 25-year-old will focus on the way he fought back in the second half of the semi-final as he tries to reach new levels in 2022.
“I don’t think I have to say anything about my tennis in the third and the fourth [sets],” said Berrettini. “I think it was a really good fight. I was playing good tennis and he was playing good tennis. I think it was fun to watch, I was having fun playing it.
“The first two sets weren’t what I expected, what I wanted from myself. I wouldn’t say I was flat, but I wasn’t in the right mood, in the right mental mindset, for many reasons. I think for the first time I’m in the semi-finals, against Rafa, it was good that I had a really good reaction. This is the thing that I’m most proud and happy about.”
Having only been beaten by either Nadal or World No. 1 Novak Djokovic over the past four Grand Slams, Berrettini feels he has the game to go toe-to-toe with the greats.
“I know that my level is getting higher and higher,” Berrettini said. “I think here for the third and the fourth [sets], my tennis level was really high. I’m not saying that he was struggling, but he had to play his best tennis to be with me, and this is what the great champions do normally. When you’re stepping up the level, they are there with you.
“I think it’s time for me to play these kind of matches as much as possible, to learn from these matches, and next time I want to be ready for them.”