Over the past three months, as the tennis tour travelled through Europe and the clay season endured, one men’s contender was missing throughout. Matteo Berrettini underwent surgery on a finger, forcing him to spend his days on the sidelines as the rest of the tour rolled on.
Returning from injury and quickly regaining the form of old can be one of the biggest challenges a tennis player faces, but upon his return on his favourite surface, Berrettini has made it look easy. He has marked himself as one of the top Wimbledon contenders once more. On Sunday afternoon Berrettini won the cinch Championships for the second year running, defeating the unseeded Filip Krajinovic 7-5, 6-4 in the final.
Berrettini joins a revered list of names to successfully defend their Queen’s Club title, all of whom have reached world No 1: Andy Murray, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker, Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe.
Despite his absence, Berrettini has returned with a nine-match winning streak on the surface, surprising himself by winning Stuttgart last week with a victory over Murray in the final, and then carrying his momentum into Queen’s. “The last thing I expected was to come back from surgery and win two titles in a row,” he said.
Last year Berrettini was one of the highlights of a golden Italian sporting summer, rising to reach his first career grand slam final at Wimbledon where he lost in four sets to Novak Djokovic. Berrettini is an all-court player whose big serve and forehand are destructive in all arenas.
He has thrived on all surfaces in turn, already reaching the semi-final of all four grand slam tournaments. But at a time when many younger players have struggled to replicate their top results on grass, Berrettini has found his home on the surface.
With his victory, Berrettini is now 20-1 on grass since the start of last season and he is 32-3 (91%) on grass since 2019. Even with his success on all surfaces and the few tournaments on grass, five of Berrettini’s 10 ATP finals and four of his seven titles have now come on grass courts.
Unlike many of his countrymen, who often lean towards clay and then hard courts, much of Berrettini’s game seems built for this surface. His destructive weapons are complemented by an excellent one-handed backhand slice, which he learned as a teenager when he struggled with an injury to his left wrist, he has delicate hands with his drop shots and he is capable at the net.
In Halle, the only other ATP 500 event on grass, Hubert Hurkacz defeated Daniil Medvedev 6-1, 6-4 to win his first grass court title. Ons Jabeur also bolstered her status as a Wimbledon contender after Belinda Bencic retired with a foot injury. Jabeur was leading 6-3, 2-1.
Jabeur will next head to Eastbourne where she will pair up with Serena Williams in the doubles event. Williams continued her own preparations for her comeback by training with Frances Tiafoe on Sunday.