After all four of the other Top 5 seeds fell victim to first-round upsets at the Cinch Championships, defending champion Matteo Berrettini restored order at The Queen's Club in London on Tuesday.
The second-seeded Italian, fresh off winning his sixth ATP Tour title in Stuttgart, defeated home favourite Daniel Evans, 6-3, 6-3, on centre court. The Briton — who won an ATP Challenger Tour title last week in Nottingham — created seven break chances, but Berrettini erased each one to escape in straights.
“We both won a tournament last week so we were feeling confident and I think we showed it on the court,” Berrettini said post-match. “That's why I'm even happier for my win.”
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Both sets included late drama. In the first, Berrettini broke in the eighth game and then saved two break points in serving for the set. But that paled in comparison to the close of set two.
Leading by an early break, Berrettini battled through four deuces at 4-3, saving three break points to extend his lead behind clutch serving. The ensuing game went eight deuces, with Berrettini ultimately converting his fourth match point.
“The last two games were really long,” he assessed. “But thats the beauty of tennis. We were fighting really hard.”
The 26-year-old improved to 5-0 following surgery on his right hand, all on grass. Prior to his Stuttgart triumph, he had not competed since Indian Wells in March.
“I love to play on grass. I love to play here,” he said. “I got a surgery a few months ago and I didn't know if I was able to play this grass season so I'm really thankful to be here. Obviously every match is important for me. Now it's time to think about the next match. Of course the goal is to win again.”
The Italian claimed the 2021 Queen's Club title before reaching the Wimbledon final, finishing the grass season with an 11-1 record. He will look to extend his perfect grass-court record this year against either Denis Kudla or Lorenzo Sonego in the second round.