Matteo Berrettini is into the third round of the Australian Open for a second time after beating American qualifier Stefan Kozlov 6-1 4-6 6-4 6-1 on John Cain Arena.
The 2021 Wimbledon finalist had to work hard to overcome the world No. 169 in two hours and 38 minutes and will now play 18-year-old Spanish sensation Carlos Alcaraz in a highly-anticipated meeting on Friday.
Berrettini revealed he had stomach issues during his first-round win over Brandon Nakashima. He said he now feels "good" and is hopeful of making a deep run at this year's Slam in Melbourne.
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"It was a really tough match," he said.
"I've never played against Stefan and he is a tricky player. I started pretty well and then he started playing better, I wasn't feeling my strokes like I was in the first set then I had to fight through and I'm pretty happy for my win.
"I'm feeling good. It's my second tournament of the year so it always takes time to feel your best but match after match I will feel better and hopefully it's going to be a long run."
Berrettini started comfortably enough as he won the first set in 28 minutes, reeling off six games in a row after Kozlov took his opening service game.
But after Berrettini squandered three break points at 2-2, Kozlov rallied in the second and broke the Italian’s serve to move into a 5-3 lead before eventually winning the 57-minute set.
The match tightened up with Berrettini and Kozlov locked on serve until the Wimbledon finalist managed to secure the all-important break on set point.
And Kozlov’s resistance was finally broken in the fourth set as Berrettini tactically worked him out. The world No. 7 stormed into a 3-0 lead and the American had no answer.
Berrettini sealed a double break to go 5-1 up before wrapping up the match with a crushing ace.
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