What the deuce! -- Love is in the air in Wimbledon quarters

London (AFP) –


Not only will Matteo Berrettini and Felix Auger-Aliassime set their friendship aside when they meet in Wednesday's Wimbledon quarter-finals but their respective girlfriends will forget their family bond as they are cousins.

First task, though, for Berrettini is to cheer for his girlfriend Ajla Tomljanovic later on Tuesday in her first Grand Slam quarter-final when she plays fellow Australian Ashleigh Barty.

The 25-year-old Italian will probably outwardly be more demonstrative than his girlfriend of two years.

He has admitted it is "10-times more stressful watching her play" than when he is in a match of his own.

Tomljanovic's cousin Nina Ghaibi will be doing the same as in cheering on the Australian but then it will be all about Felix come Wednesday.

It promises to be quite a clash between two players who have been compared with legends of the sport.

Big-serving Berrettini has been mentioned as capable of becoming the first player since Boris Becker in 1985 to win Queen's on his debut and add the Wimbledon crown a few weeks later.

Canadian Auger-Aliassime has from an early age been thought of as being able to emulate the late Arthur Ashe -- the only black player to have won three Grand Slam singles titles (1968 US Open, 1970 Australian Open, 1975 Wimbledon).

As if that was enough pressure as both eye the immediate prize of a first ever Grand Slam semi-final both will have to block out the closeness of their relationship.

That did not stop Berrettini from pushing social distancing to one side after Auger-Aliassime beat fourth seed Alexander Zverev in the Last 16 encounter on Monday.

- 'Best friends' -

Indeed their dinner on Monday back at the hotel would have been a happy occasion.

Berrettini, 25, had also won and later had cheered and at times shaken the metal bar in front of his seat as Tomljanovic won her match with Emma Raducanu retiring a set and 3-0 down.

"After we won, all three of us passed each other in the hallway," said Tomljanovic.

"I was so happy for him (Felix) because he, like, is everything, like how he goes about the sport is unbelievable.

"He wants it so much. He loves everything about it. To see him do well, it makes me so happy.

"I gave him a fist pump, like, Yay, Felix. I think they (Berrettini and Auger-Aliassime) actually hugged."

Auger-Aliassime, 20, has been with Tomljanovic's Croatian cousin -- who is a professional horse rider -- for two years.

"Well, I'm pretty happy our paths crossed two years ago. Two years of love and happiness. To many more in the future," he wrote on Instagram.

Auger-Aliassime -- who first picked up a racquet aged four and was coached by his Togolese father Sam till he was 12 -- says there will be no question of expressly avoiding Berrettini before the match.

"No, I don't think so," he said.

"It's good for me personally, and I think I can speak for a lot of players on the tour, we're able to make the difference between what happens on the court and off the court.

"Matteo is one of my best friends on tour, first of all. I can chat with him, have dinner with him.

"Of course, when the day of the match comes, then you focus on what you have to do. It's two separate things."

Auger-Alliasime says just because they spend a lot of time together will not lower the intensity of Wednesday's match.

"Both our girlfriends are cousins, so it just happens that we spend a lot of time together," he said.

"He's really a great guy, great person. I get along really well with him.

"Since we're in the bubble, we have dinners together sometimes. We watch the (Euro 2020) game together.

"I think it's good to get to play each other.

"We'll try to leave it all out there, and it's going to be good."