Thanks for visiting the Australian Open Website. We can see you’re using Internet Explorer, and wanted to let you know that we will no longer be supporting this browser in future. We’d recommend you download a new browser if you'd like to continue keeping up with all of the latest tennis news!

Tummy trauma not enough to deny Berrettini

  • Dan Imhoff

With the benefit of a first major final under his belt and a late-season injury concern behind him, Matteo Berrettini has every reason to cast his net wider in 2022.

Having enjoyed a breakout run to the decider on the lawns of the All England Club last July, it was fair to consider the pursuit of a maiden major now well within his wheelhouse.

The Italian had, after all, reached the quarterfinals or better at the past three majors with Novak Djokovic his roadblock each time.

For the man nicknamed “The Hammer”, an opening-round victory over American Brandon Nakashima on Monday not only bought him precious time to work his way into Australian Open 2022 but time to recover from a queasy gut.

“I've been feeling sick with my stomach, let's say that,” Berrettini said. “It was really hard to play, especially the third and fourth set.

“(I was) playing a great match against Brandon... I told myself to fight, to do my best and in the end I won. I'm really happy.”

True grit: Berrettini was feeling woeful, but he still got the job done

At a career-high mark of world No.7, Berrettini warmed up for his fifth campaign at Melbourne Park with defeats to Alex de Minaur and Daniil Medvedev, which bookended his sole win against Frenchman Ugo Humbert on ATP Cup duty in Sydney.

While not the results he had hopedm for there were positives to draw on, having surrendered his place in the ATP Finals on home turf in November with an abdominal injury.

The 20-year-old Nakashima was always bound to present a problematic opening hurdle.

Back-to-back hard-court finals in Los Cabos and Atlanta last July and August made him the youngest American man to notch two tour finals since Andy Roddick almost two decades ago.

It helped shave almost 100 places off his ranking in the space of a year to finish last season at No.68.

Nakashima’s rapid improvement was apparent during his Australian Open main draw debut on Monday, as he capitalised early on against an errant opponent.

No chocolates today, but Nakashima is still a man on the rise

Berrettini’s serving woes went from bad to worse as a double fault surrendered a love break for the opening set after 43 minutes.

But it was just the wake-up call the Italian needed.

MORE: men’s singles draw AO 2022

Break points proved elusive for him throughout the opening set but when a first opportunity arose in the opening game of the second, Berrettini delivered.

With the match soon tied up at a set apiece, Berrettini was forced to fend off a pair of set points on serve at 4-5 in the third set before holding her nerve in a tie-break in which nine of the 12 points went against the server.

As the contest neared the three-hour mark, the Italian landed a telling break in the fourth set and never looked back as he ended the clash with 21 aces.

“I was feeling that the match was changing a little bit there so I really held with my mental strength mostly because my body wasn't there,” Berrettini said. “Then also, the tiebreak I was playing really good and then got a little bit tight.

“Luckily I got the third set and after that I said ‘Okay now focus on my service game and let's try to break him somehow’.”

It set a second-round showdown with American wildcard Stefan Kozlov and for now at least, there would be no talk of casting Grand Slam nets wide.

The outlook was simple.

“Hopefully in the next match I'm going to feel better.”