Elegant and executive-looking, officially retired just over a week ago, Feliciano Lopez enjoys analyzing on the garden terrace reserved for the players and their teams at Wimbledon: “For how young he is, Carlitos plays an egg on grass. He has only played eight games! Eight! He has an impressive backhand, and a terrifying volley. Let’s see, what lies ahead is hard, but right now there are no specialists and everything is possible. Of course, Djokovic is Djokovic. And be careful, because Berrettini knows how to play here and if he has an inspired day with the serve, he can get him into trouble ”.
The man from Toledo, who knows something about playing on grass, warns of the rebirth of the Italian, a depressed tennis player until a few days who raises his head again. “Coming here, he wasn’t even sure that he was going to play the tournament. And not because he didn’t want to, but because to compete in a Grand Slam you have to be physically and emotionally prepared. Wanting is not enough. A few days before I thought I wasn’t ready, but then I thought about the tournaments I’ve missed in the last two years and how I couldn’t leave here without trying. This is a special place, and I wanted to try it”, pointed out the Roman after beating Alexander Zverev on Saturday and scaring away a thousand ghosts.
Although the comeback is not complete, Berrettini has recovered the spark and shines again on the stage where he starred in the best days of his career. Two years ago, in 2021, the Italian played the final of the tournament against Novak Djokovic and showed that he knows how to decipher the demanding codes of grass. He does it from the right-hand serve, from inverting himself and attacking the ball with everything. “I had a hard time starting out on grass because I grew up on clay,” he says, “but I changed my attitude. It’s a matter of playing and playing, of being aggressive, ”he continues, trying to leave behind the roughest part of his career, which has resulted in injuries and more injuries.
Since he played the semifinals of the 2022 Australian Open, the transalpine (27 years old) fell into a physical and emotional ditch from which he is having a hard time getting out. But, as he rightly says, “everything is part of a process, of life. Everyone has ups and downs. It is a sport in which you feel that you are always in a hurry, but at the same time you must be prudent. Right now I don’t use social networks or read anything; I try to be in a bubble because my brain won’t stop. I work hard every day to come back. I feel the pressure. I feel like I’ve come here and I’m not seeded, and that’s different.”
a hole in the back
An operation on the right hand. The covid. The oblique. “The injuries made me lose my taste for tennis,” he explained to the media on Saturday. How difficult it is to go up in tennis and how easy it is to descend. From number six and fighting for the greats to falling to 38th and disappearing from the front line of the media. Humility to recover in the viscous terrain of the challengers. “If they had told me a week ago that I was going to be able to play several days in a row here, at Wimbledon, I would have signed it with blood,” he says. And there he continues, now threatening, having dispatched high-level tennis players like Sonego, De Minaur and Zverev.
Little joke, Berrettini. He knows how to serve and hit, even though he has a hole on the back. Alcaraz knows this, who for the decisive stretch has surrounded himself with his relatives and conscientiously prepares the last stretch. “If I return well, I will have my options,” says the Murcian, who has only dropped one set. And he is right. Inspired by the return against Nicolas Jarry, he will have to fine tune again against the Italian, whom he dominated 2-1 in the previous ones; yes, they have never faced each other on grass and the spaghetti (1.96 and thin, with fragile ankles) will appear with a weighty argument: he is the only one who has not lost serve in the entire tournament. He powerful in the first, cunning in the second.
“I remember playing Carlos in five sets in Australia already three in Vienna  and river . We have always given everything and now he is number one. It is always a pleasure and a great battle to play against him ”, qualifies Berrettini, pointed out in his country. “He is wasting everything, you don’t know what is happening,” Nicola Pietrangeli, double Roland Garros champion (1959 and 1960) criticized him three weeks ago. However, he has straightened up. “I spent days in bed thinking about the tournaments I missed, the injuries I had, the sadness I felt. I thought: ‘I have to come back and feel alive when I play’. And here I am again”, concludes the Roman, the one who retains the most points with the first serves (86%) after Alexander Bublik (87%) and the only one who has made a full defense: six of six balls of break saved.
A danger is back. And Alcaraz, on alert.
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Source: EL PAIS