Novak Djokovic was upset by Lorenzo Musetti in a dramatic defeat at the Monte Carlo Masters. The 16th seed dispatched the Serb 4-6 7-5 6-4 after the crowd booed the world No 1 for arguing a ball mark midway through the match. There was also drama as both men received code violations and the match was paused for an hour due to rain.
Djokovic had raised some concerns when seen with strapping on his right elbow while training on Wednesday, and he took to the court with the sleeve on his arm again. The Serb came into the match with a 3-0 record against Musetti but 21-year-old had been on a roll in Monte Carlo – winning his last three sets 6-0.
The pair traded breaks early on before the Serb quickly regained his advantage and he looked to break for a third time as he held two set points on the Italian’s serve at 5-2. But momentum suddenly shifted towards the 16th seed, who held and saved another set point on Djokovic’s serve as he broke to keep himself in the opener.
With the crowd chanting Musetti’s name, the 35-year-old took a 0-40 lead on his opponent’s serve and finally clinched the opener 6-4 on his sixth set point after 51 minutes. The second set also proved to be a rollercoaster, with six of the first seven games going against the server.
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With Musetti serving at 3-4, the Serb then got into a disagreement with the umpire about a ball mark on the clay as the heavily-Italian crowd booed him and the 21-year-old was able to hold for the first time in the second set. Djokovic was then broken to allow Musetti to serve for the set but broke back to stay alive at 5-5.
But the Italian proved relentless and broke the top seed once again, prompting Djokovic to stomp on a racket in frustration, earning him a code violation. After more than an hour since the Serb took the opener, Musetti forced a decisive final set by taking the second 7-5.
And there was more drama at the start of the third as play was suspended due to rain at 1-1. The players took to the court almost an hour later and it was Musetti who pounced first after the resumption, breaking to lead 4-3.
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Serving for it at 5-4, Musetti blew two match points as Djokovic had a lifeline with a break point, but he sent the ball wide before the Italian failed to convert a third match point. Finally, on his fourth match point the 16th seed pulled off the biggest win of his career in a three-set comeback after two hours and 54 minutes.
With his upset victory, Musetti is through to just his second Masters 1000 quarter-final, with his first coming in Paris at the end of last year. And he will face compatriot Jannik Sinner after the seventh seed saved a match point against Hubert Hurkacz to advance earlier on Thursday.
The world No 8 won their only meeting at the 2021 European Open and went on to lift the title, but Musetti was ranked down at No 69 at the time and will be full of confidence after toppling the 22-time Major champion.
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