If there is a consistent rock on the men’s tour, it is Matteo Berrettini, who survived a five-setter Sunday to advance to his fifth straight Grand Slam quarterfinal.
Playing in the humidity of an 11 a.m. start on a jam-packed Louis Armstrong Stadium, Berrettini dropped the first set, won the next two, but then folded in the fourth set with the fans chanting “Fo-ki’’ for his Spanish foe Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.
Berrettini reversed the tide with a dominant fifth and posted a 3-6, 7-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2 triumph in just under four hours against the Spaniard who defended with grace all afternoon.
After losing the first set, Berrettini got down a break in the second set before he lifted his power forehand game in a roller-coaster afternoon.
“I think he was playing a really good level of tennis,” Berrettini said. “I wasn’t feeling bad. It was just he [was] playing better than me. I kept believing in my game, my strokes. I was able to take the second set in tiebreak. Then it was fights ups and down. A lot of humidity today. Sweating a lot. But in the fifth I was feeling good. The energy was good.”
Berrettini, who made the 2019 Open semifinals, is always lurking as a title contender because of his ferocious serve. But the pride of Italy just hasn’t gone all the way yet.
He would’ve been a very strong contender at Wimbledon but got a bad case of COVID-19 during the grass-court tune-ups and withdrew.
“I was sick — I had really a high temperature,” Berrettini said. ‘I was feeling all my bones were broken. I’m really sensitive for COVID. It took me three weeks to get back in shape.
Obviously now I have an extra motivation. I feel like this year has been tough, surgery, COVID. But here I am again, healthy.’’
In Tuesday’s quarterfinals, the Italian will get the clay-court demon Casper Ruud, the first Norwegian to make the Open quarterfinals and who made the finals of the French Open. Ruud has beaten Berrettini three of their five meetings.
“We kind of have like a similar game,” Berrettini said. “We like to run around our forehands, like putting a lot of spin on the ball, being aggressive. I think the key is like to be aggressive before him.”
Lefty Corentin Moutet showed a lot of French fight in Flushing Meadows, becoming the first lucky loser to advance to the fourth round of the U.S. Open.
And that fight reared its ugly head Sunday after the final changeover as Moutet trailed 5-2 against the sixth-seeded Ruud.
Moutet was issued a serving-clock violation late in the fourth set and he didn’t like that at all. He harangued the chair umpire for three solid minutes, claiming he was simply needing a towel so he could grip the racket on this humid day.
He threw a fit, throwing in a curse word because the umpire ignored him completely. The lucky loser is a player who lost in the last round of qualifiers but gained entry because of an injury withdrawal.
“It was a match with some show here and there,” Ruud said.
With the lessened restrictions on international travel, the U.S. Open’s attendance in the first week was a bonanza. Records are set, then broken.
On Saturday, the U.S. Open set its all-time single-day attendance record for the second day in a row — with 72,065 fans coming to the day and night sessions.
Saturday’s record attendance — 42,259 in the day session and 29,806 for the night session — surpassed the previous record of 72,039 set Friday.