There are no fans allowed inside the Billie Jean King Tennis Center this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that didn’t stop Giovanni Bartocci from cheering on his favorite player and friend Saturday in Flushing Meadows.
Playing on outer Court 17 during the afternoon session, Matteo Berrettini could hear Bartocci — the owner of the destroyed East Village Italian restaurant Via Della Pace — supporting him loudly from the other side of the fence outside the grounds of the U.S. Open.
“I think nobody didn’t hear him. Was really loud today. I think louder than the other days,” Berrettini said after advancing to the fourth round with a straight-sets victory over Casper Ruud of Norway.
In past years, Berrettini made it a ritual to eat during the Open at Bartocci’s rustic Manhattan restaurant, which was destroyed in a fire in February, ahead of the worldwide pandemic shutdown.
Berrettini said he’s been using Uber Eats and other delivery apps for food inside the bubble during this year’s Open, but he hopes to help out Bartocci, if possible.
“I’m really sorry, no, of course, because I can’t go there for the virus, but I’m really sorry for this guy, because his restaurant was everything for him,” Berrettini said. “Last year, I was going there every night after my match. And I’m really sorry, because he got a little bit bad luck twice for the, I mean, for the fire and for the virus.
“So I’m really looking forward to try to help him maybe a little bit. I don’t know what we can do. He’s struggling. I don’t know if he’s going to come back in Italy, but I’m really thankful that he’s here. He’s enjoying a little bit different this year. But he’s a nice guy.”
The 2019 Open semifinalist will face Russian Andrey Rublev — a straight-sets winner Saturday over Italy’s Salvatore Caruso — in the fourth round.
New York Post
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