Matteo Berrettini is into the fourth round of the Australian Open for the second time in his career after beating Spanish phenom Carlos Alcaraz 6-2 7-6(3) 4-6 2-6 7-6(5) in a high quality match on Rod Laver Arena.
The 2021 Wimbledon finalist won the epic contest in four hours and 13 minutes and overcame an opponent he lost to in their only meeting at the Vienna Open last October. Berrettini was blown away by the quality of the Spanish teenager.
"Unbelievable, when I was 18 I didn't even have my first ATP point," he said afterwards.
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"He's impressive. He can only improve playing matches like this. He showed everybody his potential. Really congrats to him."
Alcaraz began aggressively and it startled the Italian who had to rescue four break points in his opening service game, but the 25-year-old retained his composure and 26 minutes in he secured a break to go 3-2 up.
Errors crept into Alcaraz’s game while Berrettini was doing well off his first serve. After securing the break in the fifth game, Berrettini reeled off the next three games.
Momentum was firmly with the No 7 seed heading into the second set and he produced a break on Alcaraz’s serve in the first game. Alcaraz began to play more conservatively as the set progressed, though, and it paid off as he broke back at 4-4.
Both players battled to a tie-break. At 2-1 down, Alcaraz produced a costly double fault and a clinical Berrettini ensured he paid the price, winning five of the following seven points to take the second set and extend his lead.
The third set was tight with the first break points falling the way of Alcaraz in the ninth game. The Spaniard won six points in a row before sealing the break to go 5-4 up and then did just enough to hold his serve to halve the deficit.
With Berrettini flagging slightly, Alcaraz was starting to win more points off his first serve in the fourth. He fired an unstoppable winner down the line to go a break up at 3-2 before reeling off the remaining three games in style.
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Both players saved single break points in the third and fourth games of an incredibly tight fifth set where the games increased in length. Alcaraz had to rescue a match point at 6-5 before a Berrettini unforced error resulted in a super tie-break.
In the race to 10 points, Berrettini got a mini break to go 6-5 up - after Alcaraz mishit a forehand - and widened the gap further. On match point, Alcaraz double faulted to hand Berrettini a brilliant victory.
WILANDER: ALCARAZ WILL BE WORLD NUMBER ONE
Eurosport's Mats Wilander told the Cube: "He's unbelievable in pretty much every department. Physically he's so strong already. He's so fast on the court.
"Tactically he changed his tactics throughout the match and turned it around. Emotionally he's as excited as Rafael Nadal and he's smiling at his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero at times.
"The relationship between the two of them seems to be incredible. To have all these qualities it's amazing. It's so long term with him.
"I really think this kid is going to be number one in the world because he won't stop until he's at the top of his game."
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