Matteo Berrettini in dreamland after historic win over Monfils
Berrettini, 23, displayed impressive poise and resilience after fluffing four match points to outlast 13th-seeded Frenchman Monfils 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7/5) in three hours and 57 minutes
Matteo Berrettini said he was "dreaming" after edging Gael Monfils in a thrilling five-set tussle Wednesday to become the first Italian to reach the men's US Open semi-finals since 1977.
Berrettini, 23, displayed impressive poise and resilience after fluffing four match points to outlast 13th-seeded Frenchman Monfils 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7/5) in three hours and 57 minutes. He became just the second Italian man to make the last four in New York after Corrado Barazzutti 42 years ago, and is only the fourth in the Open era to advance to a Grand Slam semi-final — joining 1976 Roland Garros champion Adriano Panatta and Marco Cecchinato.
"It's tough to focus right now. Just too many things coming in my mind," said Berrettini, who will face 18-time major champion Rafael Nadal for a place in Sunday's final at Flushing Meadows. "I received, like, thousands of messages. I was dreaming about this when I was a child. So now I'm doing that. Like I said the past days, I have to enjoy what I'm doing, but I have to look forward what to do what I want to do," he added.
Berrettini wrestled with his emotions as he blew a 5-2 lead in the final set, but expressed his pride at coming out on top after a protracted struggle.
"Do you think you can practice these kind of feelings? I was saying to myself during the match, 'What do you expect? — I mean, you're 23. Just playing your first quarter-finals and you expect that you not get tight? So I was saying to myself, 'OK, that's normal. Keep going. You know you're going to have more chances like I had,'" he explained.
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