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Handsome Future Star Berrettini the last man standing, wins first-ever Ultimate Tennis Showdown

“The Hammer” Berrettini wins first-ever Ultimate Tennis Showdown.

By Ricky Dimon

The one of a kind Ultimate Tennis Showdown showcased a variety of innovations throughout its debut this summer. One of those was the prevalent use of player nicknames. Matteo Berrettini, for example, was “The Hammer.”

And it’s safe to say he dropped the hammer on the rest of the field.

Berrettini outlasted Stefanos Tsitsipas in a sudden-death tiebreaker to become the first-ever UTS champion on Sunday night. After splitting the four quarters at two wins apiece, the two finalists played a ‘breaker in which whoever was the first to gain a two-point lead emerged victorious. That proved to be Berrettini, who ripped a cross-court forehand passing shot to clinch it.

“The Greek God” Tsitsipas lost the final to “The Hammer” in a sudden-death tiebreaker.

The Italian had previously lost to Tsitsipas during round-robin competition, but he still did enough to earn the No. 3 seed and book a spot in the semifinals. Berrettini beat Richard Gasquet in the semis (which were also on Sunday), while the top-seeded Tsitsipas got the best of No. 4 David Goffin.

“I was pretty upset when I lost (to Tsitsipas), because also the other time I was up two quarters to love,” the 23-year-old reflected. “It’s tough, but you have to handle it. This time I said to myself, ‘it’s not gonna happen; you’re gonna win this one.’ I twice went match point down but I was really good to win those points. Now I’m here.

“One of the biggest qualities a tennis player can have is the ability to adapt. I think I did a good job doing that this week.”

But he isn’t done adapting just yet.

It has been a whirlwind tennis tour for Berrettini, who played in Dominic Thiem’s tournament in Austria on red clay and finished in third place on Saturday. He quickly returned to the hard courts of southern France for the UTS conclusion. The world No. 8 will now head to Berlin for a grass-court exhibition on Tuesday. That’s right; in the span of four days he will cover all three surfaces.

But will he play in the U.S. Open later this summer? That remains a question.

“I think there are a lot of questions the big tournaments have to answer with the quarantine and travel issues,” Berrettini noted. “I am going to think about my health and my tennis and then decide.”

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.