It appeared Matteo Berrettini would seal Team Italy’s place in the United Cup final on Saturday evening, but Stefanos Tsitsipas refused to allow that to happen.
The Greek rallied past Berrettini 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 to keep his country’s hopes alive at the Final Four in Sydney. Italy still leads the tie 2-1, and Lucia Bronzetti will have a chance to close out the tie against Despina Papamichail.
For the first half of the No. 1 men’s singles match, Berrettini was in control. Full of confidence after victories against Thiago Monteiro and Top 10 stars Casper Ruud and Hubert Hurkacz earlier in the mixed-teams competition, the Italian used his booming serve and thunderous forehand to keep the Greek on the back foot.
Despite having the racquet taken out of his hand for much of the match, Tsitsipas began to encourage the Ken Rosewall Arena crowd to involve itself midway into the second set. That proved the turning point.
The Greek fans enthusiastically complied, waving flags and supporting its top-ranked male player. Cries of “Hellas! Hellas! Hellas!” began reverberating through the crowd.
Suddenly, despite being down a set, momentum was on Tsitsipas’ side. Berrettini, who rarely let slip his concentration during the match, misfired throughout the tie-break, which the Greek took full advantage of.
After firing up the crowd, Tsitsipas, who was seemingly hanging on for much of the first two sets, used the support to his advantage to earn his country’s first win of the tie.
Italy lost its City Final in Brisbane against Poland, but earned a spot in Sydney as the best-placed runner-up. The Italians are still well-positioned to advance. If Bronzetti does not defeat Papamichail, the tie will go to a deciding mixed doubles match.