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Matteo Berrettini finally capitalized on his fifth match point to beat Gael Monfils and reach his first Grand Slam semifinal. 

By Daniel Rapaport
September 04, 2019

The best match of this U.S. Open so far didn't feature Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal or Serena Williams or Naomi Osaka. It featured a 33-year-old Frenchman and a little-known Italian with a big, big game. 

Matteo Berrettini finally capitalized on his fifth match point to beat Gael Monfils in a wild five-setter (3–6, 6–3, 6–3, 3–6, 7–6) that was equal parts sloppy and entertaining. The No. 23 seed, who stands 6'5" and is anything but lanky, is into his first-ever Grand Slam semifinal after the nearly four-hour match.

"I don't even remember the match, just match points," an exasperated Berrettini told ESPN's Tom Rinaldi in his on-court interview. 

Monfils put his nose in front early in the first set, making inroads against Berrettini's backhand to seize control of the match. But Berrettini began to do damage with his massive forehand in the second and third sets, winning both before rain forced the roof on Arthur Ashe closed at the beginning of the fourth set. Monfils—who had girlfiend Elina Svitolina, who will play Serena Williams in the semifinals on Thursday, looking on from his box—managed to nab the fourth and keep his hopes alive and force a fifth.

And what a fifth it was. Berrettini broke to take a 2–0 lead, but Monfils promptely broke back and equalized it at 2–2. Berrettini then won the next three games to go up 5–2, and he earned a match point while serving at 5–3...and promptly double faulted before getting broken. The double faults—those were a theme. Monfils would eventually even the match at 5–5, which is when he chased down a net cord to the delight of the crowd.

While serving at 5–6, Monfils overcame three double faults to send proceedings into a decisive tiebreaker. 

He dumped two more double faults in the tiebreaker, and Berrettini served for the match at 5–2. He lost both points on his serve but managed to close it out with an unreturned serve on his fifth match point. 

Berrettini's reward for the win? A likely date on Friday with Rafael Nadal, who was set to play Diego Schwartzman in the last match on Arthur Ashe on Wednesday night. 

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