Gael Monfils has again disappointed when a major opportunity at a grand slam presented itself.
This time the flamboyant Frenchman fell at the quarterfinal stage of the US Open, spent, bent over and broken after an almost four hour marathon, which he lost 3-6 6-3 6-2 3-6 7 7-6 (7-5) to rising Italian star Matteo Berrettini.
The 24th seeded Italian maintained his composure better than tour veteran Monfils who produced a serving display that plumed the depths of former WTA Tour star Anna Kournikova when she had the yips in the late 1990s, as he hit 17 double faults for the match and a shocking five of seven on his second serve late in the match.
It took five match points for the 23-year-old from Rome to clinch his first ever slam semi-final berth — likely to be against Rafael Nadal, if the Spanish great can defeat Diego Schwartzman later in the day — and when he did with a big unreturnable serve Berrettini collapsed to the court in joy, as the New York crowd loudly applauded him and he drank it in.
“Right now I don’t remember any points, just the match point,” Berrettini told ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi post match.
“I remember also the double fault (he hit when he had his first match point) I have to be honest.”
Berrettini said the entertaining encounter was one of the best he has taken part in and he may not have been wrong as plenty of tennis fans waxed lyrical over the entertaining match between the two baseliners.
“When I was playing I was thinking this is one of the best matches, maybe,” he said.
“I was playing but I was watching as well.”
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Devin Heroux called it the “match of the tournament” and was joined by plenty of other tennis analysts in praising the enthralling match up.
For Berrettini the win caps a remarkable rise in 2019 as he made his first ever grand slam semi-final in a year where he started outsider the top 50 and has been as high as 20 in the world, won titles in Stuttgart and Budapest and made the fourth round at Wimbledon.
He’s also now the first Italian male in 42 years to make the semi-final at the US Open, the last was Corrado Barazzutti in 1977.
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