Matteo Berrettini helped lead Italy to the ATP Cup final in 2021, recording victories over Dominic Thiem, Gael Monfils and Roberto Bautista Agut. The World No. 7 will look to take Italy one step further this year after he earned his first win of the season against Frenchman Ugo Humbert on Tuesday.
Ahead of his final Group B match against World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, Berrettini spoke to ATPTour.com about his tennis development in Rome, Italy’s team spirit, Jannik Sinner’s devastating backhand and more.
If you could take one shot from any member of your team and add it to your game what would it be?
I think I would take Jannik’s backhand, because I think he has one of the best backhands on Tour, and my backhand is not my best shot. That’s why I would take it.
What about Jannik’s backhand is special?
When he plays it, he is pretty loose. It seems like he’s not putting a lot of strength when he’s playing, it’s pretty natural. That’s what I like the most. It’s also tough to read, whether he’s playing cross court or down the line, and it’s always good to have a solid backhand because then your opponent cannot attack you on that side.
How would you describe your teammates personalities?
Fabio [Fognini] has been on Tour a long time, so he’s had the chance to show everybody his personality. I would say that he’s different compared to me. The great thing about him is that he’s just himself. He’s not trying to cover who he really is. It’s good for him, and for the sport to be true to himself.
Simone is such a great guy, always doing the right things in practice, on court and off court. I’ve known him for a really long time, and he also helped me growing up. We played club matches together and he gave me tips and stuff, so I have a great relationship with him.
Lorenzo is so funny. He arrived and made us laugh so much. He’s really genuine, always smiling, bringing good energy and a good vibe, so with him it’s really easy to hang out.
And Jannik is so young, but at the same time he’s so much older. He knows how to have fun, but how to put the work in at the same time. I think what he’s doing is impressive, but I think it comes from his attitude and the way he goes through things. He’s really mature in that way, and that’s one of the reasons he’s getting crazy results.
Can you tell me about your first tennis club in Italy?
It’s called Corte dei Conti, it’s in Rome. My grandparents are still members there and it was basically the place where I grew up, even if it wasn’t tennis. I would go there and play football, basketball, go swimming there. It was a place where my parents were always taking us because they were members, and they were playing tennis, so it was really easy for me to start playing tennis and I still have a lot of friends and people that I know there.
What are your three favourite things about Italy?
I have to say I love the food. I like to eat, and I like the fact that the food is different in each city that you go. Each region has their own specialities and it’s something unique. I like that the people are really passionate about what they do, especially in sport, they care so much.
We are emotional, I think in a good way. We put our heart into what we do. The third thing is we have some of the best coastlines as well as mountains, so for tourism it is really one of the best.
What is your favourite place to go, if you could pick one?
Even though I don’t live in Rome, my family and best friends live there. So, Rome is obviously always going to be a place to go. Right now, feeling this heat, I would probably go somewhere on the coast, to eat some seafood and be on the beach all day. Probably Sardinia.
Was there one Italian in tennis you idolised or looked up to?
I’m from Rome, and probably the best Italian tennis player we ever had was Adriano Panatta. I actually know him, he gave me tips when I was younger and I think it would be nice to win what he won and to achieve what he achieved, as a coach and obviously as a tennis player.
What do you love about being part of a team?
I always say that we have our own team, but it’s different because you feel like in a way you have more responsibilities. You are not just playing for yourself, that thing gives you more energy and an extra thing. It’s really nice.
You can win or lose, but it doesn’t affect the tie, because you still have other matches, and you have to handle your energies and emotions during the whole tie. For example, I’m going to watch Jannik play, and if I get tired watching him and cheering for him, I’m going to be tired for my singles. You have to adjust to this and I think it’s fascinating to see how you do that.