Matteo Berrettini’s high-powered game has taken him as high as No. 6 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings as well as to a Wimbledon final, with the Italian’s fearsome serve and forehand two of the most exhilarating shots in the modern game.
Yet Berrettini’s on-court intensity contrasts starkly with his demeanour off court, where he is an easy-going, warm and charming presence on Tour. Now one of the focal points of Netflix’s new documentary series Break Point, ATPTour.com takes a look at five things you may not know about the charismatic Italian.
1. His younger brother Jacopo inspired Jacopo to return to tennis
Berrettini quit tennis at six years of age because he preferred swimming and judo. Jacopo, his younger brother, asked Matteo to return to tennis a few years later. The Italian has never looked back. They have played doubles on the ATP Tour together.
“‘My whole family played tennis,” Berrettini explained to Head.com. “My parents were members of a tennis club in Rome but at first I didn’t really love it that much… But when I was eight my little brother Jacopo, who was already playing tennis, told me ‘Come back. You’ll like it. You’ll like it.’ And so I did, and I never stopped.”
Matteo Berrettini, Jacopo Berrettini” />
Matteo Berrettini, and his younger brother Jacopo Berrettini, enjoy Sardinian cuisine in Cagliari in 2020.
2. He Played an Important Role in A Historic Weekend For Italian Sport
Berrettini became an Italian man who reached the Wimbledon final in 2021. Novak Djokovic, the champion in the championship match, ended Berrettini’s dream run. Despite that disappointment, just hours later Berrettini dashed across London to Wembley Stadium to witness the Italian national football team lift the European Championships’ trophy after defeating host nation England on penalties.
“I wanted this match to be seen live in order to avoid disappointment [of Wimbledon] Berrettini is friends with many Italian footballers and joined his fellow countrymen in post-match celebrations. It was great. During my Wimbledon final, I was more nervous than my parents!
3. He almost took the academic route to tour
Berrettini’s path to becoming a member of the tennis elite almost involved as many books as baseline drills. The Italian student who loved history as a subject in school, now enjoys Charles Bukowski’s writings and has chosen Ernest Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” to be his favourite book. In an interview with GQ last spring, he stated that he seriously considered playing college-level tennis before making the decision to become a pro.
“I finished high school, and my parents were asking me, ‘Do you want to go to college in the US? Do you want to start college here in Italy?’” said Berrettini. “And I said, ‘Guys, give me a couple of years, and let’s see where I can get to. If I don’t reach the level I want to reach, then I’m going to do something else’. And it went well, so I didn’t have time for college.”
4. He Embraces ‘Pasta Power’
Berrettini’s 2019 run to the US Open semi-finals was powered by a post-match pasta habit from his friend Giovanni Bartocci’s Manhattan restaurant, Via Della Pace. “I’m from Roma, so carbonara [is what I eat there],” said Berrettini, before admitting that his go-to dish does not necessarily align with the diet of an elite athlete. “Maybe I shouldn’t say that, but it’s going to be a heavy plate!”
Berrettini is used to Bartocci’s support during matches in New York. He reached the quarter-finals in 2021, 2022. “He’s unbelievable,” said Berrettini of the restaurateur after one of his 2019 US Open victories. “He was screaming since the warm-up… He’s a special guy, ready to cheer and also to make us laugh, because he’s a character.”
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Netflix Q&A: Break Point With Matteo Berrettini
5. He Isn’t Afraid To Prank His Coach
Since Berrettini was 14, he has been under the coaching of Vincenzo Santopadre. The 26-year-old has retained his trust in his childhood coach throughout his journey to the Top 10, and the longevity of the pair’s working relationship could be attributed to their ability to have fun with each other once they step off the court.
“I almost have a father-son relationship with my coach,” Berrettini told ATPTour.com in 2021. “We joke, I prank him, I record him while he’s asleep, I wake him up… I pay him, so I can get away with it!”