July 09, (THEWILL) – History beckoned for the pair of semi-finalists at Wimbledon on Friday and it was the man that outclassed Roger Federer midweek, Hubert Hurkacz, that succumbed to the superior tennis game of Matteo Berrettini, who paved his way to the final in four sets, 6-3 6-0 6-7(3) 6-4.
It was a masterclass display by the number seven seed. Fresh off his victory at the Queen’s Club Championships where he beat British young player Cameron Norrie in the final, the Italian has had a fairly comfortable run to the final.
In their semi-final, Berrettini needed two hours and 36 minutes to scale past the Hurkacz hurdle to become the first Italian in history to reach a Wimbledon singles final. He will be looking to carry that record further as he is now one match away from claiming Wimbledon against either defending champion Novak Djokovic or 10th seed, Denis Shapovalov.
It was the first ever appearance at a semi-final for the two players as both men took to the court but it was clear after the initial exchanges that Federer’s nemesis, Hurkacz, could not replicate the form that saw him upset the eight-time Wimbledon champion and Swiss icon in Wednesday’s match.
Berrettini was the first to threaten to inch ahead with three break points, but Hurkacz battled back to dig out the hold and suggest he was ready to go toe-to-toe with the Italian. The 14th seed Pole pressed the Italian in a nine-minute game and in what became a significant moment in the semi-final, Hurkacz failed to convert to take the lead.
It allowed Berrettini step on the extra burners and break his Polish opponent twice with spectacular cross-court winners that Hurkacz had no answer to. After just 35 minutes, Berrettini had the first set in the bag. He had unlocked something about the match that gave him the edge and he demonstrated that in the second set.
Outplaying Hurkacz in much the same way as the Pole did to Federer, Berrettini combined sparkling tennis with precision shots that Hurkacz could not match. The imbalance of power was shown when Berrettini took an astonishing 11 games in a row to claim a second-set bagel to move within one set of a place in the final of SW19.
The total dominance of the world number nine in the second set appeared to have woken the 24-year-old Pole player up and he earned a roar of approval from the Centre Court crowd when he finally held with a clever serve and volley for 1-1 in the third set. There was an obvious show of some of that brilliant play that got him to the semi-final as he forced a tie-break in the set before claiming it 7-3.
But just when it looked as though a remarkable comeback was on the cards for the Polish player, Berrettini halted him in his tracks. The Italian earned an instant break at the start of the fourth set to wrestle the momentum back his way and pave the path towards getting the upper hand.
Finally, Berrettini shrugged off an early double fault in his winning serve and reeled off four points in a row to secure himself a piece of history and a chance to extend that further when he contests the men’s singles final at the All England Club on Sunday.