Musetti's subsequent mission
By Richard Pagliaro | Monday 7 June 2021
Lorenzo Musetti cemented his status as a major player on his Grand Slam debut.
The 19-year-old Italian showed creativity on all seats and built a lead of two sets Novak Djokovic today, before the top-ranked Serb went up a gear and Musetti hit a physical wall.
More: The defiant Djokovic fights Musetti in five sentences
The number 1 in the world, Djokovic, led the plug 6-7, 6-7, 6-1, 6-0, 4-0 as a battered Musetti due to incipient cramps and a creaky lower back that restricted his movement pulled. It was Djokovic's fifth career comeback after falling two sets.
Still, it was a coming-of-age tournament for the former number 1 in the junior world, just two and a half years after Musetti won the 2019 Australian Open boys championship.
Djokovic, who has trained at Musetti, says the Italian teenager has all the assets to be a universal threat.
"You know, Musetti definitely has all the qualities in his tennis, especially in his game on clay, but also on other surfaces, to be a top player," said Djokovic. “I wish him all the best. He is a nice guy. We know each other well now. We trained quite a bit and now we played for the first time.
"Yeah, I really wish him all the best. I think if he continues like this he is definitely on the right track to become a top player one day."
The wild ride ends with Musetti retiring because of his hip, but both players put on a mind-blowing show today. 👏
With two games to go, @DjokerNole makes it into the quarter-finals.
Read: https://t.co/aNwseo0WNY#RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/ZmDBfbKo2C
– Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) June 7, 2021
Building on confidence from the fantastic 14 days of the French Open beating fellow countryman Marco Cecchinato in the first five-setter of his young career, Musetti said that performance proves to himself that he can play with the elite.
"Yes, of course I came here to play my first Grand Slam in the main draw and I won two sets against the world number 1 in the second week," said Musetti. "I think I took a lot of feelings, a lot of emotions, but also a lot of experience. Now I know how to play, how far I am from the biggest guys on the tour, like Nole, so I know that when I'm good play, I can stay at this level.
(embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgFRIY0p_Yw (/ embed)
After Musetti pressed the world's number 1, Djokovic, on five sentences, he is aiming for a big encore at Wimbledon, which he calls his favorite Grand Slam.
While Musetti grew up on sand, his pace on the court, that wonderful one-handed backhand, his ability to shift spins on serve, and his basic strokes should all work well on SW19.
"Yeah, I'll go home, get some rest and work for Wimbledon," said Musetti. "I mean, Wimbledon is my favorite slam for sure. I played juniors once and I was really comfortable and really liked the grass.
"I hope it will be the same. I know that not every tournament will be like this, especially the Grand Slam. So, yes, I'll try to do my best and try to get through to week two like this. But I make no promises. Let's see, and then we'll talk. "
Photo credit: Getty