Fixture: (2) Matteo Berrettini vs (LL) Taro Daniel
Date: 24 April 2021
Tournament: Serbia Open 2021
Venue: Barcelona, Spain
Category: ATP 250
Surface: Red Clay
Prize money: US$235,238
Match timing: Approx. 7 pm local time, 10.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel | UK - Amazon Prime Video
Matteo Berrettini vs Taro Daniel preview
World No. 10 Matteo Berrettini take on Japan's Taro Daniel in the semifinals of the 2021 Serbia Open on Saturday.
Berrettini did not have a great start to 2021, as he was forced to withdraw from his fourth-round match against Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Australian Open due to an abdominal tear. But the Italian is fully fit now, and seems to have rediscovered his best tennis in Belgrade.
Berrettini has been ultra-aggressive the entire week, hitting his forehand crisply to all corners of the court. The 25-year-old hasn't dropped serve even once so far, despite facing dangerous opponents like Filip Krajinovic and Marco Cecchinato.
Taro Daniel, meanwhile, had managed to win only two main-draw matches from the start of 2020 until last week. But the World No. 126 has turned his fortunes around in Belgrade; after getting in as a lucky loser, Daniel has beaten John Millman, Joao Sousa and Federico Delbonis to book his place in the last four.
This will be the Japanese's first semifinal appearance at an ATP event since the 2019 Tokyo Open, where he finished as the runner-up to Novak Djokovic.
Matteo Berrettini vs Taro Daniel head-to-head
Taro Daniel surprisingly leads Matteo Berrettini by a margin of 1-0 in the head-to-head. Their only encounter came in the first round of the 2018 Istanbul Open, where Daniel beat Berrettini in straight sets before going on to win his first (and only) ATP title.
Matteo Berrettini vs Taro Daniel prediction
Matteo Berrettini has been in fine form at the Serbia Open. He has been particularly strong on serve, saving all of the nine break points he has faced in his Belgrade campaign so far.
The Italian has used the 'serve +1' strategy to perfection, forcing his opponents to hit short returns and then putting them away with his forehand. The 25-year-old has also shown improvement in his movement on clay, defending better than usual.
Taro Daniel comes into this match-up as the clear underdog, but he has arguably played just as well as the Italian this week. The Japanese has hit a big ball on his forehand all week long, and has been pretty resilient as well.
During his quarterfinal match against Delbonis, Daniel came back from a 4-2 deficit in the deciding set before ultimately claiming victory.
The key to the match for both players will be to serve well and swing freely on the forehand. But given that Berrettini hasn't had a lot of match practice since his comeback from injury, Daniel might just have a slight edge in this encounter.
Prediction: Taro Daniel to win in three sets.