World No.7 Matteo Berrettini has become the first Italian man to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open after surviving in five sets despite dropping the third and fourth for the second time in this tournament.
After taking the opening two sets, Berrettini was forced into a gruelling five-set encounter with French star Gael Monfils at Rod Laver Arena, 6-4 6-4 3-6 3-6 6-2.
Berrettini had no trouble breaking Monfils in the first two sets and even fought off several breaks in what initially looked destined to finish in three sets.
But a crucial double fault in the third set while Monfils had a break point opportunity sparked a fightback by the French veteran, who took control and pushed the match well past midnight.
“I’m really happy for myself,” Berrettini said during his on-court interview
“What a great fight again against Gael. Great match, a lot of emotions.
“I had a couple of break points and I couldn’t make them … like what happened with (Carlos) Alcaraz (Garfia in the third round) as well, I was leading and then they started to play better.
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“I thought I had him in the third set, but I found myself in the fifth … I really fought hard and I put everything on the court. That’s what I said to myself, and that’s why I’m really happy.”
Matteo Berrettini speaks after his win against Gael Monfils
Berrettini, as he did against the Spaniard in the third-round, found a way back to survive in five sets.
The 25-year-old Italian broke against Monfils in the first game of the deciding set. He eventually went up a double break and finished things off against Monfils, who couldn’t repeat his third and fourth set heroics.
He will now face superstar Rafael Nadal in the next round after the Spaniard defeated Denis Shapovalov earlier.
Tonight’s match wasn’t the first five-set encounter between the pair.
Monfils and Berrettini famously played a thrilling five-setter in 2019 in the quarter-finals of the US Open.
Fellow Italian Jannik Sinner will have a shot at joining Berrettini in the semi-finals, with a quarter-finals match against Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas to follow.
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