This tie is a Group B clash including some of the Tour’s best players in Berrettini, Humbert and Sinner. Having suffered an opening tie defeat to home team Australia, the Italian were looking to bounce back against France. The French lost the opening encounter narrowly to defending champs Russia via the doubles. My focus today is on Matteo Berrettini taking on tricky lefty Ugo Humbert who followed Jannik Sinner versus Rinderknech. Sinner did his bit and dispatched Rinderknech in straight sets, 3 and 4. Now up to Matteo to finish the job. Unforced errors were Ugo’s worst enemy in this one. After two confident holds from both, the Frenchman choked on deuce in the third game to hand the break to Matteo. His forehand was very much off today failing to clear the net three times in the game. We all know the Matteo serve is explosive when it is on form, so once he went ahead in the first set Ugo was in trouble. He desperately needed the hold at 3-1 Berrettini. Watch the brave drop shot at 30-15 up, tempting fate only just making the line. Now watch this serve by Matteo at 3-2(40-15). Deuce court, serving to the lefty. Get the angle right to the returner’s backhand you are in the money. There were no more breaks of serve in the first set with Matteo taking it 6-4. Ugo always great finding the lines. Watch 5-3(40-15).
On to the second set, it looked like deja vu in the opening plays for Ugo netting an easy forehand up 40-0. He proved me wrong by closing out the game early the following point. Very confident holds of serve in the second set from both players. Only exceptions being 3-2 (30-15) when Berrettini was put under pressure. What a return from Humbert, didn’t catch the backhand cleanly but those shots that aren’t tend to cause the most problems because you don’t know quite how to deal with them. Berrettini tries to ace you out of the game so your return game has to be spot on. Check out the eighth game at 4-3. Now on to the tie break we went. It was great that Ugo was to start serving first. Matteo’s forehand miss at 1-0 had Ugo in the driving seat. Errors in the crucial moments came back to bite Ugo. First to tie the breaker at 2-2 then the double fault at 4-4. The final nail was netting at 6-6, then game over. Italy with a win/loss record of 1-1 in the Group sit atop it with Australia and Russia still to play their second matches.