Both the players registered big wins for their team.
Matteo Berrettini sealed his country’s spot in the final of the ATP Cup on Saturday with a 6-3, 7-5 victory against Roberto Bautista Agut, giving Italy an insurmountable 2-0 lead against Spain. Earlier in the day, Fabio Fognini clawed past Pablo Carreno Busta 6-2, 1-6, 6-4.
One year ago, the Italians did not advance out of the group stage of the ATP Cup, but now, they are into the championship match against Russia.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling. Last year I couldn’t make it, so I’m really happy that the first time that I played we are into the final. The job is not done yet, but we are really happy for what is happening. I’m feeling good and pumped. I am feeling great to play not just for me, but for my team and for Italy in general. That’s what matters the most. I’m really looking forward to playing tomorrow,” Berrettini said after the match.
Berrettini has been a star for Italy in this ATP Cup, going 3-0 in singles and partnering Fognini in a deciding doubles victory against Austria in Group C play. The World No. 10 has beaten three of the top 13 players in the ATP Rankings without losing a set. The 24-year-old used a combination of controlled aggression and finesse to battle past the Spaniard after one hour and 26 minutes. The Italians will face Russia, led by Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, in the final.
Berrettini remarked, “For sure it’s a final, so we are the two best teams. These two guys, they played unbelievable at the end of 2020. They’re still playing really good, but it’s a final, anything can happen. They are great players, but we also have a great team, so it’s going to be a tough one.”
He now leads Bautista Agut 4-1 in their ATP Head2Head series, with each of his four victories coming in straight sets. Bautista Agut took a medical timeout after the first set, but that did not stop the Spaniard from battling hard. He added more pace to the groundstrokes to try to push the Italian back. But Berrettini, who bulldozed his way through the opening set with his power, used his backhand slice and drop shot to great effect, and seized the deciding service break with a tremendous forehand passing shot.
Fognini responded to every challenge thrown his way in the No. 2 singles match to give Italy a 1-0 lead in its ATP Cup semi-final against Spain. Fognini clawed past Carreno Bustain a roller-coaster battle that lasted two hours and 21 minutes.
“I’m happy because of course this week I started slowly and I’m getting better and better. The sensations are good,” Fognini said after the match.
After getting broken in the first game of the match, Fognini appeared concerned as he had the trainer visit to re-wrap his left ankle. But while the number seven was a bad omen for the Italian against Carreno Busta entering their No. 2 singles match, it proved a lucky number for Fognini at Melbourne Park.
The World No. 17 won seven consecutive games to seemingly take control of the match. However, the rain threw a wrench in Fognini’s plans. At 1-0 in the second set, a delay of about 30 minutes changed the momentum. The players switched roles upon the resumption of play, with Carreno Busta back to his steady self and Fognini misfiring.
With national pride on the line, the Italian maintained his composure and found his game early in the deciding set but Carreno Busta rallied from a double-break down in the third set to get within two points of getting back on serve. While the Spaniard saved three match points on his serve, he was unable to hold off Fognini. The Italian’s firepower proved decisive, and he finished off his victory with a perfect backhand drop volley.