Matteo Berrettini’s high-powered game has taken him as high as No. 6 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings as well as to a Wimbledon final, with the Italian’s fearsome serve and forehand two of the most exhilarating shots in the modern game.
Yet Berrettini’s on-court intensity contrasts starkly with his demeanour off court, where he is an easy-going, warm and charming presence on Tour. Now one of the focal points of Netflix’s new documentary series Break Point, ATPTour.com takes a look at five things you may not know about the charismatic Italian.
1. His Younger Brother Jacopo Inspired Him To Come Back To Tennis
Berrettini stopped playing tennis when he was six years old as he preferred swimming and especially judo. It was his younger brother Jacopo who asked Matteo to try the sport again a couple of years later and the Italian has not looked back since. The brothers have even played doubles together on the ATP Tour.
“‘My whole family played tennis,” Berrettini explained to Head.com. “My parents were members of a tennis club in Rome but at first I didn’t really love it that much… But when I was eight my little brother Jacopo, who was already playing tennis, told me ‘Come back. Try again. You’ll like it.’ And so I did, and I never stopped.”
Matteo Berrettini and younger brother Jacopo Berrettini enjoy Sardinian food in Cagliari in 2021.
2. He Played a Key Role In A Historic Weekend For Italian Sport
In 2021, Berrettini became the first Italian man in history to reach the final at Wimbledon final, where his dream run was ultimately ended by Novak Djokovic in the championship match. Despite that disappointment, just hours later Berrettini dashed across London to Wembley Stadium to witness the Italian national football team lift the European Championships’ trophy after defeating host nation England on penalties.
“I wanted to see this match live to try to let the disappointment [of Wimbledon] go,” Berrettini, who is friends with several Italian footballers and joined his countrymen in their post-match celebrations, told Sky Sports Italia. “It was cool. I was more nervous than my parents were during my Wimbledon final!”
3. He Almost Took The Academic Route To Tour
Berrettini’s path to becoming a member of the tennis elite almost involved as many books as baseline drills. The Italian, whose favourite school subject was history, enjoys reading the works of Charles Bukowski and has named his favourite book as Ernest Hemingway’s ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’. In an interview with GQ last year, he revealed that he seriously considered playing college tennis before taking the decision to turn pro.
“I finished high school, and my parents were asking me, ‘Do you want to go to college in the US? Do you want to start college here in Italy?’” said Berrettini. “And I said, ‘Guys, give me a couple of years, and let’s see where I can get to. If I don’t reach the level I want to reach, then I’m going to do something else’. And it went well, so I didn’t have time for college.”
4. He Embraces ‘Pasta Power’
Berrettini’s 2019 run to the US Open semi-finals was powered by a post-match pasta habit from his friend Giovanni Bartocci’s Manhattan restaurant, Via Della Pace. “I’m from Roma, so carbonara [is what I eat there],” said Berrettini, before admitting that his go-to dish does not necessarily align with the diet of an elite athlete. “Maybe I shouldn’t say that, but it’s going to be a heavy plate!”
Berrettini has become used to Bartocci as a regular and vocal supporter during his matches in New York, where he also reached the quarter-finals in 2021 and 2022. “He’s unbelievable,” said Berrettini of the restaurateur after one of his 2019 US Open victories. “He was screaming since the warm-up… He’s a special guy, ready to cheer and also to make us laugh, because he’s a character.”
5. He Isn’t Afraid To Prank His Coach
Berrettini has been under the guidance of coach Vincenzo Santopadre since he was 14. The 26-year-old has retained his trust in his childhood coach throughout his journey to the Top 10, and the longevity of the pair’s working relationship could be attributed to their ability to have fun with each other once they step off the court.
“I almost have a father-son relationship with my coach,” Berrettini told ATPTour.com in 2021. “We joke, I prank him, I record him while he’s asleep, I wake him up… I pay him, so I can get away with it!”