If everything goes to plan, Italy could be celebrating its first winner of Wimbledon – male or female – and watching the Azzurri lift the European Championship trophy for the second time on this Super Sunday.
Standing in the way of Italy’s successes are two formidable opponents – Novak Djokovic and England.
Wimbledon men’s final
At 15:00 (CEST), Matteo Berrettini will face world number 1, Novak Djokovic, on Centre Court at AELTC.
Berrettini has had a fantastic run on the grass courts of London, winning the Queen’s Club tournament. Now he has just one match before he can claim the Wimbledon crown.
Djokovic has won both prior meetings, but their match in last month’s Roland-Garros quarter-finals pointed to Berrettini’s rising potential.
Grass enhances the Roman’s greatest strengths – his serve and his forehand. He will need both to be firing if he is to stand a chance against arguably the greatest returner the sport has seen.
6ft 5in Berrettini has delivered an event-leading 101 aces, 38 more than his third-placed opponent. It is possible he could make inroads on the Djokovic second serve, which has gone unreturned just 17% of the time.
“With big weapons in serve and forehand, he can play well – which he has proven – on any surface,” Djokovic said. “Obviously grass favours him even more, favours his game. If he serves big, as he did throughout the entire tournament, it’s tough to break his serve, it’s tough to go into the rhythm, to find a good positioning to return, make him play.
“But I believe in my return. I think return has served me very well throughout my career. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a lot of those serves back and wait for my chances. I will have to also serve myself efficiently.”
Berrettini has a 32-6 win-loss record in 2021. He is bidding to become the first Italian man to win a Grand Slam final since Adriano Panatta succeeded at Roland Garros in 1976.
“My first final in Wimbledon, it’s just crazy to think about it,” said the right-hander from Rome. “I think I never dreamed about this because it was too much for a dream.”
“Obviously for Italian people in general, it’s going to be tough Sunday. But I think we deserve it.
“I think it’s going to be a special Sunday for all of us.
“It’s great day, great sport day. I’m really happy that together with football tennis is now one of the biggest sports in Italy.”
Euro 2020 final
At 21:00 (CEST), hopefully when Berrettini is showered and relaxing with his trophy in front of the TV, Italy face England at Wembley.
England are one win away from a first major trophy since 1966, and playing at home they have the major advantage of a vocal crowd behind them. However, Italy are a revitalised team with both experience and youth to call upon.
Shoring up the defence is Giorgio Chiellini. Alongside his Juventus teammate Leonardo Bonucci, he has the art of defending nailed down. The 36-year-old captain has experience by the capful after 17 years and 111 appearances for Italy.
Italy are a different team to the one that failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Under Mancini, who took over in 2018, they have a 33-match unbeaten streak dating back to September of that year.
Italy’s style of play was known for defending as if they were a medieval castle under siege. Until this summer, Italy had never scored more than two goals in a European Championship match.
Since Mancini, they have opened a little, playing more attacking football. In Euro 2020, they won their first two games 3-0 against Turkey and Switzerland blowing both teams away with stylish and energetic football.
However, as the semi-final attested, the old defensive style is never far away. Should England score first, chances are we will see an exciting and entertaining match. On the other hand, if Italy find the back of the net first, expect the drawbridge to go up and defensive strategy to take over.
Forza Matteo! Forza Italia!