WILL EVANS’ daily preview serves up Australian Open tips for a fascinating quarter-final between exciting veteran Gael Monfils and seventh seed powerhouse Matteo Berrettini.
20:15 (AEDT), Tue 25th Jan @ Melbourne Park
History: Played 2: Berrettini 2 V Monfils 0
First meeting: ATP Cup, 2021 (RR): Berrettini d Monfils 6-4 6-2
Final Thoughts: Rising Italian force Matteo Berrettini and 35-year-old crowd-pleaser Gael Monfils are both vying for their maiden Australian Open semi-final berth.
Seventh seed Berrettini – a Wimbledon finalist last year and a US Open semi-finalist in 2019 – had not previously been past the fourth round at the Australian Open. Monfils, the 17th seed, reached the quarters in Melbourne in 2016. His two Grand Slam semi-final runs came at the 2008 French Open and 2016 US Open.
Berrettini was pushed hard in the opening three rounds. After four-set victories over Brandon Nakashima and Stefan Kozlov, he outlasted teenaged 31st seed Carlos Alcaraz Garfia in a five-set marathon. The 25-year-old held his nerve to take out a nerve-jangling fifth-set tiebreak.
But Berrettini lifted a gear in the fourth round, disposing of experienced 19th seed Pablo Carreno Busta 7-5 7-6 6-4. He offered up just one break point (which he saved) in the impressive win.
Renaissance man Monfils chases a fairytale
Monfils, meanwhile, is yet to drop a set in a searing charge to the final eight. He dropped just five games in each of his first two victories over Federico Coria and Alexander Bublik. The Frenchman saw off 16th seed Cristian Garin 7-6 6-1 6-3 in the third round, before putting away Miomir Kecmanovic 7-5 7-6 6-3 in the Round of 16.
Monfils has smashed 53 aces in his four matches, carrying on an outstanding start to 2022 that includes picking up the Adelaide International 1 title.
Berrettini boasts a 2-0 record in his head-to-head with Monfils. The pair played an epic quarter-final at the 2019 US Open, Berrettini winning via a fifth-set tiebreak. They squared off in the ATP Cup last year, with Berrettini carving out a 6-4 6-2 win.
That US Open classic is rated as one of the best Grand Slam matches of recent years. This has the makings of something similar. Monfils is in sparkling form and knows he won’t have many opportunities left to win a major. Berrettini, the $1.56 favourite, has been forced to spend a lot more time on the court and an upset could be on here.
Either way, expect this contest to go four sets or beyond.
AUSTRALIAN OPEN TIPS
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