Matteo Berrettini | AFP
Melbourne:, Jan 24 (IANS) Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini of Italy rode his luck to advance to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open with a 7-5, 7-6(4) 6-4 win against 30-year-old Spanish stalwart Pablo Carreno Busta at the Melbourne Park here.
The world No. 7 earned a crucial first-set break, which set him on course for his maiden Australian Open quarterfinal appearance in a late Sunday game.
With Carreno Busta, ranked 21st in the world, serving at 5-5 in the first set, Berrettini benefited from two dead netcords in the game to break to love. He then slammed consecutive aces in the next game to close out the set 7-5.
Berrettini said he was delighted to make his first quarterfinal appearance at the Australian Open after he was forced to withdraw in Round 4 last year due to an abdominal injury in the match against Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas.
"It was really tough last year. I really wanted to play, but I couldn't with the tear in the ab," Berrettini was quoted as saying by atptour.com. "But I believe there is a reason for everything that happens and I've been wishing to come back as soon as possible and the way I won today shows how much I care about this tournament."
Berrettini will take on a resurgent Gael Monfils of France who emerged a 7-5, 7-6(4), 6-3 winner against Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic.
"I was really precise with my serving and he wasn't reading my serve, which is why I hit a lot of aces," Berrettini said. "My serve percentage was high, which was important. I felt I had more energy going into the third set. When my serve is working it's always good for my tennis."
This was 25-year-old Berrettini's first straight-sets victory of the tournament, having gone four sets with Americans Brandon Nakashima and Stefan Kozlov in the first two rounds. He then won a gruelling fifth-set tie-break against Spaniard teenager Carlos Alcaraz in the third round.
Berrettini slammed 57 winners, including 28 aces, against Carreno Busta in the two-hour, 22-minute match. He put 77 per cent of first serves into play and won 87 per cent of first-serve points and 57 per cent of second-serve points.
The Italian has now reached the quarterfinals at all four Grand Slams, the 10th active player to achieve the feat. He is also the fourth Italian man to reach the last eight in Melbourne.
Berrettini holds a 2-0 ATP edge over Monfils, including a fifth-set tie-break win at the 2019 US Open quarterfinals.
"It was a really tough match and the emotions were all over the place for me and him," Berrettini said. "I remember that match with a smile, but it will be a different match this time. For sure it will be a fight."