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Matteo Berrettini arrived at the 2019 Hungarian Open in Budapest with little momentum, carrying a five-match tour-level losing streak. He had won the ATP Challenger Tour event in Phoenix, but wasn’t in his best form.

That didn’t stop the Italian, who upset seventh seed Mikhail Kukushkin in the first round and never looked back. Berrettini, who was the No. 55 player in the FedEx ATP Rankings, used his championship run at the ATP 250 as a launching pad to the best season of his career, eventually becoming the fourth Italian to crack the world’s Top 10 and later qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals.

“I didn’t win a lot of matches this year because I played the best tournaments in the world, so it’s always tough against these guys,” Berrettini said after reaching the semi-finals in Budapest. “I’m really happy because I’m sure on clay I am better now, and I improved a lot on the fast surfaces, so I’m happy because I’m doing a lot of new experiences and I’m proud of.”

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Berrettini ran into a physical issue in the quarter-finals. He won the match 6-3, 1-6, 6-3 against Pablo Cuevas, but the Italian turned his right ankle. That got him worried about not only that match, but the rest of the week and tournaments ahead.

“I twisted my ankle and I was a little bit nervous, because last year also I twisted my ankle here. I was thinking about last year, about my injuries,” Berrettini said. “I was really focussed on the third set. I just thought to fight point after point.”

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That mentality served Berrettini well, as he cruised past Laslo Djere 6-4, 6-2 in the semi-finals, and then maintained his form for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory against Filip Krajinovic in the championship match.

“It was a really tough match. The conditions [were tough], it was cold and windy. The balls were moving a lot. So I was really focussed on my game,” Berrettini said. “After the first set, I just told myself to fight game after game, point after point, and I’m really happy, because it was really difficult.”

It was a big turnaround for Berrettini, who then made the Munich final the following week. The Italian won his third ATP Tour title less than two months later in Stuttgart, surged massively at the US Open — where he made his first Grand Slam semi-final — and he has not suffered any setbacks since.

Berrettini’s serve has proven a big weapon, which he follows up with a powerful baseline game, spearheaded by a dangerous forehand. The confidence he earned last year in Budapest helped give him the confidence he needed to continue his ascent.





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