"I felt something special" - Berrettini recalls first time practicing with Sinner ahead of Wimbledon clash against World No.1

Wednesday, 03 July 2024 at 05:00
The second round of the 2024 Wimbledon Championships will feature some exciting match-ups, with the all-Italian affair between Jannik Sinner and Matteo Berrettini set to headline Wednesday's matches. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Berrettini took some time to recall his first practice hit with the current World No.1.
Berrettini had been Italy's top player for quite sometime, becoming just the fourth Italian man to crack the Top 10 in 2019 and again in 2021 when he finished runner-up at Wimbledon. Conversely, Sinner made his debut on the ATP Tour in 2019, and ended up winning the Next Gen ATP Finals trophy that November.

First hit between the duo was memorable, recalls Berrettini

Sinner and Berrettini are set to meet for just the second time on tour, with the World No.1 leading 1-0 in their career meetings. Although the 22-year old is the favorite based on form, Berrettini has invaluable experience on grass. The 29-year old reached the Wimbledon final in 2021, taking the first set before losing to an red-hot Novak Djokovic.
Speaking ahead of their clash, Berrettini reflected on the first time he hit with Sinner.
"The first time I played with him was in Monte-Carlo in 2019,” said Berrettini. “I felt something special. I'm not really good at saying, ‘Oh, this kid at 14 is going to be No. 1 in the World’. I don't have this kind of sight. But I felt, ‘OK, this kid is going to be really, really good’. It was impressive. Also, the way he was learning so fast and his attitude. It was just a learning process all the time. And he is still doing that. I think that's why he went up so quickly in a way."
Furthermore, the former World No.6 admits to being blown away by watching while watching his compatriot represent Italy at the 2023 Davis Cup Finals. Sinner would defeat Djokovic en route to leading Italy to the Davis Cup title.
"At the end of last year I was injured and I wasn't on Tour to see him live with my eyes. And then I had the chance to go to the Davis Cup and it was unbelievable,” Berrettini said. “It was like we were looking at each other saying, ‘Is this guy real?’ Because he wasn't missing. Hitting every ball full power. It was just the confidence that he built throughout the year was unbelievable. Just kept improving all the things that he is working on with his coaches.
“I think his secret is that he is really hungry for improvement. That's his secret. And the humbleness that he has about it. Personally, it gives me so much energy to just try to be there and to play against him and to be at his level. For me, it's really useful."

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