NEW YORK (Reuters) – A ban on spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic did little to deter Matteo Berrettini’s biggest fan on Saturday, who stood outside the fence to shout encouragement during the sixth seed’s third-round victory on Saturday.
Giovanni Bartocci, whose Manhattan restaurant Via Delle Pace Berrettini famously frequented during the tournament last year, stood outside Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Saturday shouting encouragement – and eventually employing a microphone and loudspeaker – as the Italian dismantled opponent Casper Ruud in straight sets on Court 17.
The spectacle attracted the attention of curious onlookers – but if the impassioned chef felt self-conscious about the attention, he certainly didn’t show it.
“I think nobody didn’t hear him,” Berrettini told reporters with a smile. “(He) was really loud today. I think louder than the other days.”
Bartocci, who appeared in Berrettini’s box last year when he made it to the tournament’s semifinals, was also spotted along the fence shouting cheers on Thursday when the 24-year-old beat second-round foe Ugo Humbert.
Berrettini said he may soon be returning the favor, after Bartocci’s restaurant fell victim to a fire earlier this year.
“He got a little bit bad luck twice for the, I mean, for the fire and for the virus,” said the world number eight, who this year has turned to Uber Eats for sustenance inside the quarantined player bubble. “I’m really looking forward to try to help him maybe a little bit.”
He next plays Russia’s Andrey Rublev in the fourth round. Whether he’ll again feature on Court 17 – within earshot of Bartocci – remains to be seen.
“I don’t know if the tournament is going to agree with that. Fourth round there (on Court 17). I don’t know. I don’t know. But why not? Would be great. Would be nice to hear him,” he said.
“I played on Armstrong the first round,” Berrettini said, referring to the indoor Louis Armstrong Stadium, “and he couldn’t be there, but he’s with me all the time.”
(Reporting by Amy Tennery; editing by Jonathan Oatis)