After navigating his way through a battle full of twists and mental gymnastics at the Rolex Monte Carlo Masters on Wednesday, Matteo Berrettini won’t soon forget his 27th birthday.

The 2021 Wimbledon finalist overcame Francisco Cerundolo, 5-7, 7-6 (1), 6-4, in two hours and 43 minutes, ensuring a brutal first-set collapse wasn’t the lasting impression of his special day.

Berrettini bolted out to a 5-0 lead, only to see proceedings turn south. Cerundolo slowly chipped away at the deficit, and saved a set point with Berrettini serving at 5-3, 40-30. The 24-year-old later completed the stunning seven-game momentum shift by holding from deuce to close out the opening set.

“Because it’s my birthday and it’s this tournament that I care about a lot, I don’t know what happened,” Berrettini told the World Feed. “I just felt a little bit more unsecure with what I was doing. He started to play better. Tennis, it’s a mental game.”

The world No. 22's mindset was put to the test again late in set two. After neither player was able to reach break point, Berrettini created four of them—all set points no less—at 6-5. Berrettini watched as each one slipped through his fingertips, the first two with tight hitting from his end of the court and the second two erased by Cerundolo via a pair of pummeling forehand winners.

Berrettini had never won a match in Monte Carlo prior to this week.

Berrettini had never won a match in Monte Carlo prior to this week.


Berrettini put the disappointment behind him in the tie-break, locating his first serve and making returns directed to his backhand. While he held firm, Cerundolo’s form on the baseline dipped to see any chance of wrapping up in straights dashed.

Before beginning the decider, Berrettini called for the doctor to request an anti-inflammatory. After taking the medication, the Rome native went back to work. At 2-2, Berrettini converted his fourth break point chance of a 14-point game when his forehand return had enough depth to draw a backhand error into the net.

Later when serving for the match, Berrettini recovered from 15-30. A birthday kiss from the net off a crosscourt backhand forced Cerundolo to charge forward and the Argentine miscalculated his response to float a backhand long.

“I couldn’t win the first set, but then in the second set, I said, ‘I cannot let it go like that.’ I have to fight, to be there,” said Berrettini. “I didn’t play many matches in the last months. I missed these kind of scenarios and atmospheres, so really glad that I fought through.”

Awaiting Berrettini Thursday in the round of 16 is No. 6 seed Holger Rune. The Dane defeated Dominic Thiem, 6-2, 6-4, in a high-quality contest to take his first clay-court match of the year.

Earlier this season in Acapulco, Rune won the first seven games against Berrettini before the six-foot-five right-hander retired with an injury.