Matteo Berrettini kept his title defence alive despite a scare at the Cinch Championships on Thursday. On a sun-drenched centre court in London, the Italian rallied to beat American Denis Kudla 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 and extend his winning streak to six sets.
In a hard-fought second-round duel against the tough Kudla, the second seed, who won the ATP 500 grass-court event last season, failed to find his best level. For long periods of time, the World No. 82 caused Berrettini trouble with his effort and consistency, but he was finally unable to prevail. Kudla levelled the match at 4-4 in the third set, but then lost serve in the fourth after missing a forehand on top of the net in the next game.
Berrettini, the world No. 10 who served 22 aces in the set, took advantage of his opportunity, holding service and advancing after two hours and 45 minutes. In their ATP Head2Head series, the 26-year-old now leads Kudla 3-2 and will face American Tommy Paul in the quarter-finals.
Berrettini hasn't dropped a game since returning to the Tour last week after right-hand surgery. Before defeating Daniel Evans in his first match in London, the six-time tour-level champion rocketed to the trophy in Stuttgart. Kudla was hoping for his maiden Top 10 victory and a second trip to the quarter-finals at The Queen's Club, following a journey to the last eight in 2013. He arrived in terrific form at The Queen's Club, having defeated Andy Murray in the final of an ATP Challenger Tour event in Surbiton earlier this month.