Matteo Berrettini made history for Italy as the first from the nation to reach a Wimbledon singles final, with the Roman powerhouse to line up in Sunday’s title showdown against Novak Djokovic.
The final will be played only hours before Italy tackle England at Wembley, just 20 kilometers to the north of Centre Court in the Euro 2020 final.
Berrettini fired 22 aces among his 60 winners in a pounding of Pole Hubert Hurkacz 6-3, 6-0, 6-7(3), 6-4 in Friday’s semi-final.
The Italian committed only 18 unforced errors as he played the match of his life.
Djokovic moved closer to his third straight title here as he fought off a furious early attack from Denis Shapovalov, who put the Serb under constant pressure but was unable to perform on the biggest points in a 7-6(3), 7-5, 7-5 defeat.
The top seed reached his 30th Grand Slam final and seventh here while defeating Shapovalov for the eighth time. .
The five-time Wimbledon champion was playing his 41st Grand Slam semi-final.
Berrettini could become the first man from his country to win a Grand Slam singles title since Adriano Panatta at Roland Garros 45 years ago.
“Obviously for Italian people in general, it’s going to be a tough Sunday,” the 25-year-old said.
“But I think we deserve it. It’s a great sports day. I’m really happy that together with football now we are one of the biggest sports in Italy.”
The winner of his last 11 grass court matches and titleholder at the run-up event at Queen’s Club.added:
“It’s (two Sunday finals in London) something crazy to believe for us (Italians) – obviously tennis, because it’s (Wimbledon final) never happened. It’s something nobody expected – me first.
“In football, we didn’t qualify for the World Cup, so after that the job that they did, they reallydeserve these finals.
“I’m going to think first about mine (match). Then if I have the chance, I’m going to watch (football).”
Berrettini dominated Hurkacz two days after the No. 18 stunned Roger Federer in the quarter-finals.
The Italian ran off 11 consecutive games from midway in the opening set through to a two-sets-to-love lead.
The East European rallied briefly to win a set before Berrettini clicked back into victory mode and finished the job in just over two and a half hours.
“I stepped onto the court, I was feeling confident, I knew I could win the match,” the Italian said.
“I played my best match so far, I’m really happy with my performance.. especially after the third set.
“I felt I could win that third set but it didn’t happen. I said to myself, ‘You’re playing better than him,so keep going like this and you’re going to win.'”
Djokovic had to deal with an aggressive game from the 22-year-old Shapovalov, playing his first match at this level.
The world No. 10 had no luck with break chances, with Djokovic saving five in the second set and another three in the third.
Djokovic broke the Canadian for a 6-5 lead in the final set, then served out the win with his eighth ace after almost three hours.
The world No. 1 notched 32 winners and 15 unforced errors.
“It was his first Grand Slam semi-final,” Djokovic said. “You could see he had a lot of emotions, we will see a lot of him in the future.
The winner called Wimbledon “the most special tournament in the world, the dream just keeps going
“GIving up is never an option. The Grand Slams are everything at this stage of my career. I’m privileged to be able to make history in this sport.
“That’s what inspires and motivates me.”