(Reuters) – Matteo Berrettini faces Andrey Rublev in the fourth round of the U.S. Open on Monday and expects a much tougher challenge from the Russian than he did when they met at the same stage last year.
Berrettini dismantled Rublev 6-1 6-4 7-6(6) in the last 16 during his run to the semi-finals in 2019 and holds a 3-1 record over him but the Italian sixth seed is not taking his opponent lightly.
“It’s going to be a rematch, same round … but I think we’re two different players now,” Berrettini said.
“We’ve improved a lot, both. I think he started the year like crazy, he won two tournaments in a row. He achieved so much. He’s been improving every day, every week.
“It’s going to be tough, because we know each other really well. But at the same time, we’re going to find new weapons, new ways to get the other one in trouble.”
Rublev’s titles at Doha and Adelaide before the COVID-19 shutdown propelled him to a career-high ranking of 14 and the 22-year-old has flown under the radar in New York, much like Berrettini, as he chases a maiden major.
Rublev, who reach the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows in 2017, said Berrettini would face all the pressure.
“He did last year semi-finals, so now I have no pressure. He’ll have all the pressure,” he added.
“I hope it’s going to be interesting match, and people will enjoy to watching it.”
In other matches, Canadian young gun Felix Auger-Aliassime meets second seed Dominic Thiem and local favourite Frances Tiafoe takes on 2019 runner-up Daniil Medvedev.
On the women’s draw, Serena Williams continues her quest for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title against Greek 15th seed Maria Sakkari while Belgian Elise Mertens faces Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)