Tennis-Job done, Berrettini off to watch Ajla

·3-min read

By Pritha Sarkar

LONDON (Reuters) - It is not often that Italy's world number nine Matteo Berrettini has to play second fiddle to his girlfriend Ajla Tomljanovic, after all the Australian is only ranked 75th in the world.

But with Tomljanovic taking on Wimbledon golden girl Emma Raducanu in the fourth round, the Aussie was given a more prominent billing on the final Manic Monday of the grasscourt championships by being scheduled to play on Court One.

Berrettini, however, had to trek through the throngs of fans milling around the grounds to the much smaller confines of Court 12 even though he is considered among the front-runners for the men's title after claiming the Queen's Club trophy last month.

The 25-year-old, who has yet to make it on to any of the two main All England Club showcourts, did not let such things bother him as he stepped up his bid to join a select band of players to complete the Queen's-Wimbledon double in the same year with a fluent 6-4 6-3 6-1 fourth round win over Ilya Ivashka.

The roll call of players who have completed the London double includes John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Pete Sampras, Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray and, after becoming the first Italian man in 23 years to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals, Berrettini looks confident in his attempt to join that illustrious group.

The seventh seed broke early in each of the sets and, although Wimbledon debutant Ivashka produced a mini recovery to claw his way back from 5-1 down in the second, the result never seemed to be in doubt on a sun-soaked Court 12.

A sanguine dropshot from Berrettini ended the 79th-ranked Belarusian's challenge, leaving the Italian to look forward to a last-eight meeting with Canadian 16th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime who beat fourth seed Alexander Zverev.

"I'm pretty happy for the level, for the intensity, for my mindset over all the games and stuff. I was pretty focused," Berrettini told reporters after emulating fellow Italian Davide Sanguinetti's 1998 feat of reaching the quarters.

"I had a game that I didn't serve that well in - 5-2 in the second. But, yeah, I'm happy. I'm not using a lot of energy because I won most of the matches (in) three sets. It's really good for me if I look at the long run."

DEBUT APPEARANCE

Ivashka was bidding to join the likes of Wimbledon favourites Bjorn Borg and McEnroe by reaching the last eight of the grasscourt major on his debut appearance.

But it did not take long for Berrettini to trample over such lofty ambitions.

A netted backhand from the 27-year-old Belarusian in the third game of the match was the first of six breaks the Italian collected over the course of the one-sided contest.

After watching 37 sizzling Berrettini winners fly past him, Ivashka departed with the consolation of having strung together three wins at a major for the first time in his career.

Berrettini, a semi-finalist at the 2019 U.S. Open, remained on the prowl for bigger scalps.

"I feel I am playing the best tennis of my career. (In) 2019 I was playing good, but everything was kind of new. I had to adjust a little bit. Now I have more confidence, more experience as well," he said.

"Obviously the tournament is not done yet. I'm really looking forward to achieving even more."

Job done, he was off "to watch Ajla."

(Reporting by Pritha Sarkar; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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