Is Matteo Berrettini ready to capture his first major championship at this year’s US Open? The sixth seed returned to the scene of his maiden Grand Slam semi-final at last year’s event and powered past Go Soeda 7-6(5), 6-1, 6-4.
”I was able to win the most important points in the tie-break. I got a lot of confidence after winning the first set and felt I could change gears,” Berrettini said on court after the match. “I got a little bit tight in the third set. I haven’t played a lot of matches this year. It wasn’t easy at the end, but mentally I was there and I’m happy with my performance.”
Soeda held a 5/3 lead in the first-set tie-break, but gifted the first set to Berrettini after nerves sparked a double fault and pair of routine baseline errors. The Italian capitalised on the opportunity and raised his level significantly.
Berrettini hit 18 unforced errors in the opening set, but cut down to 12 unforced errors across the next two sets while hitting a staggering 48 winners on the night. He was particularly potent on serve, firing 18 aces and dropping only three first-serve points (47/50) en route to prevailing just one minute over the two-hour mark.
Awaiting Berrettini in the second round is Ugo Humbert, who quickly moved past Yuichi Sugita 6-3, 6-4, 6-3. The 22-year-old Frenchman captured his first ATP Tour title this January in Auckland (d. Paire) and seeks his first win against a player inside the Top 10 of the FedEx ATP Rankings.
Milos Raonic carried over the impressive form from his runner-up finish last week at the Western & Southern Open. The No. 25 seed remained in firm control throughout a dominant 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 win against Leonardo Mayer.
”I had a great week last week. A lot of good things, especially after such a long layoff, but I knew it was going to be very important for me to separate the two,” Raonic said on court after his win. ”I’m happy with how quickly everything has come along. I know that I can play well, especially having the ability to train [while] healthy and prepare the right way. I’m glad the pieces are coming together.”
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Raonic didn’t face a break point and only lost four first-serve points (34/38) against Mayer, firing 42 winners to advance in one hour and 48 minutes. He improved to 13-5 this season and will now have an all-Canadian second-round clash with Vasek Pospisil, who defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6(4), 7-5, 7-6(3). Raonic leads their ATP HeadHead series 2-1, but Pospisil won their most recent clash at 2018 Antwerp.
Casper Ruud scored the first victory from two sets down of his career, battling back to defeat Mackenzie McDonald 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2. Next up for the Norwegian, seeded No. 30, is an all-Scandinavian battle with #NextGenATP Finn Emil Ruusuvuori. The 19-year-old clinched his maiden Grand Slam match win by outlasting Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1.