Friday, 09 July 2021 18:08

Staff Reporter.

@Wimbledon.

Matteo Berrettini became the first Italian to reach the Wimbledon men's singles final with a dominant victory over Poland's Hubert Hurkacz.

The seventh seed and Queen's champion used his big forehand and serve to good effect in a 6-3 6-0 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 win.

He will play top seed Novak Djokovic or Denis Shapovalov in Sunday's showpiece, just hours before his nation take on England in football's Euro 2020 final.

Berrettini is the first Italian man to reach a Grand Slam final since 1976.

"I have no words, really," Berrettini said. "I need a couple of hours to understand what happened.

"I think I never dreamed about this because it was too much for a dream."

Berrettini, 25, had been tipped by many for a deep run at Wimbledon after his displays at Queen's, where he became the the first player to win the title on debut at the event since Boris Becker in 1985.

It will not have escaped the Italian's notice that Germany's Becker went on to win the title at the All England Club that year.

It is not just his power on the serve and a forehand that draws gasps from the crowd, it is also his pin-point accuracy that has proved a weapon during a smooth passage to the final in which he has dropped just three sets.

Hurkacz, appearing in his first Grand Slam semi-final, had made a confident start with a hold to love in the first game of the match and held off three break points in his next service game before handing Berrettini a break with an tame effort into the net.

That was part of a run of 11 games in a row that the Italian won before Hurkacz, 24, finally held his serve and began to make a match of it by taking the third set to a tie-break that he took early control of.

Hurkacz had the packed Centre Court crowd behind him, initially perhaps more in sympathy when his shot-making had disintegrated. The net worked in Berrettini's favour and even his Hawk-Eye challenge showed the point was against him by the width of a blade of grass.

They roared and so did he when a Berrettini forehand crashed against the net to take the match into a fourth set and make it a more competitive spectacle.

But 14th seed Hurkacz, who had knocked out eight-time champion Roger Federer in straight sets in the quarter-finals, then went an early break down as Berrettini loosened up and rediscovered his form.

He failed to convert a match point on the Pole's serve at 5-3 but made no mistake in the following game, where he set up match point with his 22nd ace.

He sealed the victory with another huge serve that Hurkacz could only return long to become the first Italian man since Adriano Panatta at the 1976 French Open to reach a major singles final.