Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti said his five-set French Open loss to Novak Djokovic gave him the belief that he can compete with the very best despite his upset bid falling short against the 18-time major champion.
The 19-year-old Grand Slam debutant took the first two sets off the world No. 1 on Tuesday morning (AEST) before retiring due to injury with Djokovic leading 6-7 (7-9) 6-7 (2-7) 6-1 6-0 4-0.
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“It was a fantastic experience. I was playing my best tennis, for sure. I have never played like today,” said the 76th-ranked Musetti.
The first two sets took 75 and 66 minutes respectively, after which Musetti faded badly. He claimed just 18 more points as Djokovic rallied from two sets down to win for the fifth time in his Grand Slam career.
An incredible snap taken by Adam Pretty of Getty Images showed the lengths Djokovic went to in order to win. With one leg and arm on the clay, having fallen over beyond the baseline, the Serbian somehow managed to not only get his racquet to the ball, but win the point after staying in the rally.
Spectacular. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images
New York Times tennis reporter Christopher Clarey called it the “shot of the day” on Twitter, saying: “Seen Novak Djokovic do a lot of amazing things. Not sure I’ve ever seen him win a baseline rally after hitting a shot lying on his side on the clay.”
French tennis writer Carole Bouchard added: “One day off. Log in back. And scenes. You do you, tennis.”
Fellow sports writer Zenia D’Cunha tweeted: “Novak Djokovic slipped, fell, returned the ball while lying horizontal on the court, got up & somehow won the rally! Getting treatment for the bruise now but that was another one for the amazing highlight reel of this match!”
Journalist Ben Rothenberg was also stunned. “Djokovic winning points flopping about on the ground. Ballgame,” he wrote.
Presenter Victoria Uwonkunda wrote: “I’ve since seen this shot in all its stupendous glory. I’ve been a Djokovic fan since ‘06, I can’t remember him winning a point like this.”
In a follow-up tweet, she called it an “incredibly insane shot”.
And so I found THAT incredibly insane shot in gif form when Djokovic kicked off the 5th set in his #RolandGarros match against youngun Musetti 😅. I could watch it on repeat and still don’t make sense of it all 😂 pic.twitter.com/LHiSXFiOwJhttps://t.co/lYXOEXQwbY
Musetti was proud of his efforts but still flat after failing to capitalise on his early advantage.
“Of course I’m a little bit disappointed, but I played against the No. 1 in the world, and I took the first two sets,” said Musetti.
“He started to play really good, and then I had some physical problems. I think I have to work there.”
It was just the second time Musetti had played five sets, having gone the distance against compatriot Marco Cecchinato in the previous round.
“The match with Cecchinato was like five sets, three hours, and was really tough, was really intense,” he said. “Maybe if I had played like three sets instead of five today would have been different.
“But, I mean, you cannot compare. I’m happy with this week and with the tennis that I have showed today.”
Musetti will now turn his attention to Wimbledon, “his favourite Slam”, buoyed by his stirring run to the last 16 at Roland Garros.
“I think I took away a lot of feelings, a lot of emotions, but a lot of experience,” he said.
“Now I know how can I play, how far I am from the biggest in the tour, like Nole, so I know that if I play good I can stay at this level.”
Rafa rolls on
Nadal is marching towards another French Open title. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)Source:AFP
Rafael Nadal reached the French Open quarter-finals for the 15th time with a straight sets win over Italy’s Jannik Sinner to stay on course for a 14th Roland Garros title and record-setting 21st Grand Slam.
Third seed Nadal downed 19-year-old Sinner 7-5 6-3 6-0 and goes on to face 10th-seeded Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, who he defeated in the semi-finals last year.
Nadal has now won 104 matches at Roland Garros against just two defeats since his 2005 debut, while his latest victory extended his run of consecutive sets won in Paris to 35.
The 35-year-old Spaniard is seeded to face Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.
“I started well but was a little too defensive. I gave him the chance to come inside the court and play his best shots. That was a mistake,” said Nadal.
“I broke back at 5-4 in the first set and the match changed after that. I played at a great level.”
Nadal had beaten Sinner in the quarter-finals in Paris in 2020 as well as at this year’s Italian Open.
Sinner, the 18th seed, led 5-3 in the first set but that was as good as it got as Nadal raced away with 16 of the last 19 games.
He hit 31 winners with the Italian claiming just 10 points in the third set.
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