It’s 8am in Monaco when Matteo Berrettini answers my call. He’s a little groggy-sounding, obviously having just woken up, and decides against turning his camera on. But that’s ok, for Berrettini is allowed to be tired. He’s had a monster start to the 2022 year.
You see, Berrettini is the type of sports star that you would have found twenty or thirty years ago. The type that exudes an innate kind of cool. He’s tall, over 6’4, devilishly handsome and carries himself with a certain confidence to be admired.
Above all, he’s a tennis legend in the making.
Perhaps that’s why the 26-year-old Italian received the tap on the shoulder from newly rebranded BOSS to feature in its global campaign earlier this year. Sports and fashion; it’s a good mix. To cement the partnership, Berrettini has also launched a capsule collection that draws on the finesse and comfort of his sport, combined with BOSS’ eye for design.
We spoke to the World Number Six after his recent defeat to Rafael Nadal at this year’s Australian Open Semi Finals. He fought a valiant battle against the 35-year old reigning champion but sometimes, experience prevails over youthful vigour – a lesson that Berrettini took away from the match.
ICON: Thanks for joining us, Matteo. You’re officially the new ambassador for BOSS – congratulations! How did your partnership with BOSS come about and what made you want to work with them?
Matteo Berrettini (MB): When I first heard that BOSS was interested in partnering, I was like, ‘wow, that would be so cool’. I knew that BOSS had never really had a massive presence in tennis in that way, so I was really thrilled to be involved in the collaboration. Then I started to get excited when they explained to me how big the launch would be and that I would be the only tennis player to represent BOSS in this way.
I felt from the beginning that it has been a very natural partnership and one that is really quite special.
ICON: You helped co-create your own capsule collection with BOSS. What design aspects were important for you to feature when working together with BOSS to bring this collection to life?
MB: To have a brand like BOSS tell you that you will be designing your own collection, that’s a pretty incredible experience. So the most important aspect for me when designing this capsule was performance and comfort. But I also think tennis is an elegant sport, so it had to be sporty but elegant and stylish at the same time. It’s important to have the best garments to perform at your best, using the best fabrics, which is what we did. So, I think by utilising these three key aspects, we came up with a great collection and I think my outfit at the Australian Open speaks for itself… it was pretty sick!
ICON: Have you always been a fan of BOSS? If so, how do you resonate with the brand?
MB: Of course! I mean, who isn’t? And while I owned some items from BOSS, when I first joined the brand, I couldn’t believe how many pieces they have that are suitable for every occasion you can think of – Boss is known for its suiting and formalwear, but they also have some great casualwear items, too.
ICON: Since partnering with BOSS, has your personal style changed at all, or perhaps been elevated?
MB: I would say so. Everything fits so well now and it’s great when you can be dressed head to toe in one brand and actually look amazing. And yeah, I think BOSS just complements my style really well.
ICON: You had a fantastic run at this year’s Australian Open, reaching the semi-finals against Rafael Nadal. Looking back, are you happy with the game you played? And did you take away any lessons from that game?
MB: I mean, for sure, I was happy with my results, but you always want more. Tennis is a tricky sport because when I finished my season in Turin last year, I got injured and it was the worst case scenario – it was the worst thing that could have happened to me. And if someone told me, look, you’re going to reach the semi-finals in Australia in January so don’t worry, I would have laughed at them. So, while I’m not complaining, at the same time, sometimes you get greedy and want more. But this is sport. I think you just need to hold your head high and look towards the next game or tournament because otherwise it can consume you, the negative thoughts, and then you don’t have the will to continue to give your best effort to get better. So, for me, reaching the semi-finals at the Australian Open was a great achievement, but I could be happier, so let’s work on it.
ICON: Everyone knows that Grand Slams are notoriously difficult to compete in, and you have come extremely close to winning your first grand slam tournament. What does it take to be victorious at a Grand Slam?
MB: I think that experience has to be one of the biggest factors in winning a Grand Slam. I have lost count how many semi-finals Rafael [Nadal] has played in his career; for me, it was my third. So, of course, I’m learning so much about these occasions and how to best perform in these high-pressure matches. I also think it’s a matter of knowing yourself and knowing how to best navigate the situation you’re in.
ICON: Obviously, the mental aspect of tennis is pivotal to a players’ success. How do you manage to stay calm under pressure during these high stake games, especially Grand Slams?
MB: Tennis is a mental game, no doubt, and it plays a massive role in the performance of a player. For this reason, I have been working with a mental coach since I was seventeen years old. When I first started with this coach, we didn’t really focus much on tennis. Rather, it was more about my life, my family, my school; he really helped me prioritise my life, because when you’re a teenager, the world just seems too big.
As I got older, we figured that tennis was my job and my career and we started to vision it like that. As I said before, this game, it’s about knowing yourself. I can tell you the exact moment when I feel that I’m stressed. And I know that under pressure, all of these emotions I feel are just going to be all over the place. So, if I can let go of these thoughts and feelings during a match, I’m going to have a better chance of winning the next point. I hold onto that.
ICON: You’ve achieved many milestones as an Italian tennis player, including being the first Italian player to reach the semi-finals at the Australian Open, and the first Italian player to ever make a Wimbledon final. Are you proud of your achievements and proud to represent your country?
MB: I’m so proud of everything I have achieved not only for me but for my country. When I started playing tennis, I never thought about being that good or that this could be my career. But as I mentioned, I’m always striving for more. You have to find the balance of being true to yourself in a way that you have to remind yourself where you started, when you came from and where you want to be, because when you’re standing there on centre court and everybody is screaming and shouting and cheering you on, you just have one goal in mind: to win the match.
It makes me really proud, especially the fact that there were so many good players in the past that never achieved what I have achieved. It’s special… It’s special.
ICON: Who are the players, perhaps current or retired, that you look up to the most?
MB: I mean, you can’t look past the big three [Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic], especially Roger and Rafa. For me, I grew up watching these guys play and how can you not be inspired by what they have achieved. They’re still so inspiring and I think for everything they have achieved and everything they’re doing for the sport, it’s fantastic to watch and it’s great to see their love and passion for what they do. They could have easily retired by now because they have won it all, but you can see it in their eyes that they still want more, and I admire that. I have learned so much from all three of them.
ICON: Who are the funniest tennis players on tour? Any pranksters that enjoy getting up to a bit of mischief?
MB: [Laughs] I have a really good relationship with Lorenzo Sonego, another Italian tennis player. While he’s not necessarily a prankster, it’s more that he is just always happy. He’s always trying to find the good in what we’re doing. We have fun in the locker rooms. We have fun in the training areas, but I wouldn’t say any player is really a jokester. It all gets pretty serious around tournaments.
ICON: Do you have any pre-match rituals or habits to help you get into the right mindset before a big match or tournament?
MB: If I tell you them all, we’ll be here until tomorrow [laughs]. So many different things but not because I’m superstitious but rather it helps you to get where you want to go in your game, like being in a good mood, being in the right mental mindset. For example, I have this thing where I will take my rackets that I just trained with and I take off the grips and put new ones on whilst listening to my music with headphones, and I take my time with it.
ICON: And speaking of travel, is there a favourite place that you like to compete?
MB: Rome has a special place in my heart because I was born there. I enjoy travelling to the United States, also; it’s such a big country and each state is so unique and different. I also really love Australia. This year, I visited Sydney for the first time in my life which was amazing. And I had this idea that if I won the whole thing [Australian Open], I was going to travel up north to the Great Barrier Reef. Next time…
ICON: You’ve just reached a career high as world number 6 in the ATP rankings. What does 2022 look like for you and are you excited for the year to come?
MB: I’m really excited for 2022 for so many reasons. Obviously, my BOSS relationship has just begun. I’m happy with my current results; I guess I’ve started off the year in the right way. But the most important thing for me this year would be to stay healthy because last year, my season was going well until I got injured two or three times and it was really tough to recover. It makes it difficult to achieve your best ranking because if you’re not playing for four or five months during the year, you have less chance to gain points.
I really want to win a big trophy this year, I’m not going to lie. I know it won’t come easy but I think things for me right now are looking pretty good.
ICON: How would you like to be remembered? What legacy would you like to leave?
MB: That’s a nice question. Everything good that is happening in my life right now is happening because I’m playing tennis. But at the same time, there is more to me than just being a tennis player; I’m a guy, not a tennis machine. I have thoughts and feelings that are important to me. And one thing that really makes me happy is when people tell me, ‘Matteo, we saw that you were tired and emotional but the way you handled it was amazing’. I want people to see that I’m just a kid that started playing tennis and is still learning about himself and how to be the best version of himself.
I have many flaws, but I have great qualities, too. So I think it’s important to show people that anything is possible and that you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it.
Photography: Max Vadukul
Fashion Stylist: Nono Vásquez
Grooming: Sergio Sapiente
Fashion Assistant: Martí Serra
Talent: Matteo Berrettini