ATP Opinion Sport Tennis

No 8. Matteo Berrettini

It was a big year for the charming Italian Berrettini in 2019. He followed up his maiden tour title in 2018 with two ATP 250s and a semi-final at the US Open.

Being 196 cms (6′ 5″), he is another of the bigger breed of modern player and at 23 years old should only get better in 2020. Whether that will be enough to hold his position though remains to be seen. Words for my take on him are: charming, exciting, powerful, gutsy

Charming: Fierce on the court, but relaxed off it, he can light up an interview with his movie-star smile.

Exciting: With his colossal service and canon like forehand, he is exciting to watch. Sometimes you don’t know where the ball is going, and I wonder if he does either.

Powerful: Can bomb serves at around 230 Kms and then back it up with a plus one crunching forehand.

Gutsy: Won’t go into his shell during adversity and except for the demolition job Federer put on him at Wimbledon, keeps throwing punches.

Likes: Attacking game style. Missile serve and forehand — possesses a competent slice backhand and drop shot.

Dislikes: Lack of consistency during matches. His shot selection looks very poorly judged at times.

Areas for improvement: His backhand which was exposed by a genius like Federer at Wimbledon, forcing him to try and hit it on the run. Volley and returning are in much need of work. The defence is a prominent area to improve as well if he wants to win more often at this level. Strength and conditioning could do with some work and will help with defence. His homework is to watch Federer volleys over the break and the defence of Joker and Rafa on YouTube. There are lots of improvement areas for him, and it may take several seasons to improve all of them. The good news is despite this he is world no 8.

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Which players entice you?

Let’s have a look at which tennis players have me reaching for the TV remote to switch them on. We’ll keep the ones I want to turn off for another post. The examples below are some of my favourites and I enjoy watching them play and they inspire me to try and emulate (very poorly of course) what they do on the court.

The criteria for a player to make me want to watch them:

Absolutely can not be a whinger or have victim mentality. Good examples who do not whinge are: Federer, Rafa, Bautista Agut

Attacking mindset – aggressive all court players get bonus points.Think: Shapovalov, Stanimal, Tsitsipas, Sinner

Are great movers and athletes: Dimitrov, Monfils, Federer, Simona Halep

Have very attractive strokes or at least have a couple of smooth moves:
Goffin, Federer, Shapovalov, Nishikori, Amanda Anisimova (the backhand!)

Can take your breath away with a magnificent shot:
Wawrinka, Federer, Shapovalov, Sinner, Rafa, Fognini and Anisimova to name a few.

Possess loads of power: Wawrinka, Thiem, Sinner, Kyrgios, Anisimova, Madison Keys

Can be colourful, explosive and smash the odd racquet as long as they don’t over do it: Fognini, even Federer smashed a few early on and the usually unflappable Isner has smashed the odd racquet

X Factor and variety: Things that can’t be taught e.g. Bianca Andreescu, Shapovalov

Any player who can entice a racquet smash from Djokovic:
Extra drawing power if on more than 1 occasion: Bautista Agut (multiple times), Rafa (multiple times)

The gold standard for me is Roger Federer. This is because I think he is the one player who can do anything on a court and look stylish while doing it. I don’t think there is a box he does not tick for me. There will be fans who say he is not the GOAT and I don’t even care to debate them. This is about aesthetics, artistry and being worthy of watching. Any player who has some similarities to Fed is going to get my attention. There are players who I go back and forth between liking and disliking to watch. Nick Kyrgios is one such player. When he turns up and doesn’t have dickhead moments he is fantastic to watch. Sadly, he too often for my taste has me pushing the TV remote off button due to my first point above. Matches like his with Federer in Miami in 2017 for example make lasting memories. Some players I like do sometimes visit point 1, but as long as they don’t overstay their welcome there and spend plenty of time in the other areas I will continue to watch them.

Who do you like watching and why?