Matteo Berrettini faces in-form Andrey Rublev in the quarter finals of the Erste Bank Open in Vienna on Friday, as the Italian continues his push for Nitto ATP Finals qualification.
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Berrettini is seeking back-to-back semi-finals, but he must snap Rublev’s seven-match winning streak to progress in Vienna on Friday.
Berrettini remains in the eighth and final qualifying spot in the Race to London rankings, but the margin for error is very small, as he is only 40 points ahead of ninth-placed Roberto Bautista-Agut, who is also a quarter-finalist in the simultaneous ATP 500 tournament in Basel.
The US Open semi-finalist came back from a set down to beat Kyle Edmund in his Vienna opener, before edging out Grigor Dimitrov in two tie breaks to book his spot in the last eight. Predictably, the Berrettini serve has been a big factor in the Italian’s progress, as he sent down 14 aces in his victory over Dimitrov, and lost just five points on his first serve. He did not face a single break point throughout the match.
The 23-year-old is on course for his third title of the season, having also won in Budapest and Stuttgart earlier in the year. If he goes all the way in Vienna this week, it would be his biggest career title. Berrettini also made a final in Munich, where he lost to Cristian Garin, while he’s reached a couple of marquee semi-finals, most significant of which was at the US Open, where he recorded his maiden major semi in an electrifying run. His Shanghai semi-final at the start of October was his first at Masters 1000 level.
He began the year outside the top-50, but he is projected to break into the top-ten for the first time in his career when the rankings are updated next week.
The Italian isn’t done with this week’s work, as he faces a difficult quarter final against Rublev in Vienna on Friday.
Rublev enters the contest on a seven-match winning streak, having claimed the title in Moscow last week, and added two more wins in Vienna.
The Russian scraped past lucky loser, Alexander Bublik 6-1 6-7 7-6 in his Vienna opener, after missing two match points in the second set, but he was a lot more comfortable against Hyeon Chung in the second round, powering to a 6-4 6-2 victory over the former Australian Open semi-finalist. Rublev dropped just eight points on serve, saving the only break point he faced.
After a breakthrough 2017 during which he claimed a maiden career title in Umag, reached the US Open quarter finals, and broke into the top-40 to establish himself as one of the hottest prospects in the sport, Rublev has struggled with injuries and loss of form, and started 2019 outside the world’s top-60. The 22-year-old fell outside the top-100 in February, and though he quickly got back into that bracket, he didn’t make any notable inroads through the first half of the year. His problems were compounded by a wrist injury that ruled him out for six weeks during the clay-court season, forcing him to miss Roland Garros.
Rublev has returned with a vengeance in the second half of the season, winning Moscow, making the final in Hamburg, quarter finals in Cincinnati, Winston-Salem and St. Petersburg, and the fourth round of the US Open, where he was beaten by Matteo Berrettini in the most recent meeting between the two players. Last week’s title run in Moscow lifted him into the top-30 for the first time, with the Russian now occupying a career-high No. 22 in the world. Victory over Berrettini on Friday will propel him into the top-20.
Berrettini leads the overall head-to-head 2-1, having also won in his way to the Gstaad title last season to go with his win at the US Open, while Rublev’s solitary victory came on the indoor hard courts in Marseille earlier this season. Both men have similar weapons- the serve and the forehand- match-winning shots on both sides; and the contest may well come down to whoever gets that first strike it more often through the course of this explosive duel. I think Berrettini’s serve is more reliable than Rublev’s, which is why I’m edging towards the Italian to get the win on Friday.
Matteo Berrettini vs Andrey Rublev is live from Vienna on Friday, 25 October from 2:00pm local time/ 1:00pm BST