Austrian tennis ace Dominic Thiem has opened up on his rivalry with rising Italian star Matteo Berrettini. The current World Number 3 is tied 2-2 with the 10th-ranked Italian from their four head-to-head battles, in one of the fiercest rivalries in contemporary men’s tennis.
Speaking to the media ahead of his much-awaited ATP Cup meeting with Berrettini on Tuesday, Thiem touched on his “tight” head-to-head record with the Italian to suggest that it will be a match between equals.
Dominic Thiem says he shares cordial ties with Berrettini outside tennis
Thiem, who clinched his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open last year, said that he has played some close games against the Italian deep into tournaments and none will start as a clear favorite as they renew their rivalry at Brisbane on Tuesday.
“Towards the end of 2019, we had three amazing matches in deep stages of big tournaments, (of) high quality,” the Austrian said.
He said he was eagerly looking forward to playing Berrettini again, adding that they share cordial ties outside tennis.
“We have a very good relationship and always (have) fun matches against each other,” the World Number 3 said.
However, he added that he would have preferred playing a lightweight opponent in his opening ATP Cup tie as Berrettini is a “big, big player”.
Thiem hoping for an interesting battle against Berrettini
“I am not too happy that he is the first guy that I have to face in the new year after quite a while, without an official match,” Thiem said.
He added, however, that he was hoping for an “interesting” battle as always, come Tuesday.
While Thiem will be leading his country’s charge at the team event, a lot of how Italy fares in the tournament will depend on how Berrettini goes.
The two will also go into the Australian Open as title contenders and could even set up another meeting at some stage of the tournament.
After his maiden championship win in a Major last year, the Austrian will fancy going one step further at Melbourne Park than he did last year.
Thiem came out on the wrong end of a pulsating five-setter in the final last year, losing to Novak Djokovic.