After Fabio Fognini held off a late surge to defeat Benoit Paire in the first match of the day, 6-1, 7-6 (2)—giving Italy a 1-0 lead over France—it initially looked like things might be headed to a deciding doubles match. Monfils came out firing, breaking Berrettini in the fourth game and eventually building a 4-1 lead.
Berrettini almost went down a double break in the first set—serving at 1-4, 0-30 at one point—but he suddenly caught fire by winning nine of the next 10 games to go up 6-4, 4-1.
The two traded breaks before the Italian served out a 6-4, 6-2 victory.
“When I played him at the US Open almost two years ago, I started kind of the same,” Berrettini said, referring to their only previous meeting in the quarterfinals of the 2019 US Open, where he rallied from a set down to win in a fifth set tie-break. “He’s a really solid player, and I wasn’t feeling that good, but I knew I could always come back—I wasn’t playing my best, so I felt I could improve my level.
“This guy is really a fighter. He never quits. So I was always ready. I was ready for any score, and I just kept going. I thought about my weapons, and that’s how I think I won the match.”
It’s already been a big week for Berrettini, whose win over the No. 3-ranked Thiem marked his first Top 3 victory. Berrettini also teamed up with Fognini to take a winner-take-all doubles clash over Thiem and Dennis Novak to clinch Italy's Group C opener against Austria.
“When you play for your country, your team, it’s something special for tennis players,” he said. “This is definitely a competition I missed last year, and this year I was really looking forward to playing here.
“I’m really happy for my team because we’re through to the semifinals.”
Fognini’s win earlier in the day also came in straight sets, but it could have easily gone three. After storming out to a 6-1, 3-0 lead, Fognini watched on as Paire ran off five straight games for a 5-3 lead in the second set. Paire served to force a decider, but the Italian rebounded to avoid going the distance.
“My opponent, he’s dangerous, he’s really dangerous,” Fognini said of the Frenchman afterwards. “I was trying to be myself, really solid, since I was playing at 6-1, 3-0. I knew he was trying to do something different, but I played a really bad two games, and I got a bit angry, of course.
“But I was in the match every second, so that’s the good point of my performance today.”
France managed to close the final result of the tie to 2-1 as Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin won the doubles match against Italian pair Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori, 6-3, 6-4.