Italian players playing at the wonderful site of the Foro Italico in Rome always brings a crowd.
A rearranged event and the current situation around the world with Covid-19 meant that Lorenzo Musetti who turned 18 in March debuted in Rome in unusual circumstances.
A lot is anticipated of the teenager who has been great strides on the ITF and ATP Challenger tour as well as winning the Junior event at the Australian Open at 16 against Emilio Nava.
He had to get to the main draw of Rome the hard way through an intense and heavy qualifying draw. 64 players began the qualifying draw in Rome and Lorenzo had it tough up against experienced Argentine Leonardo Mayer in round two but orchestrated past him and came from behind to defeat fellow Italian Zepperi.
In the main draw the Italian ran into two very experienced clay court opponents who have major titles amongst them at Masters 1000 level and for Stan at Grand Slam level on the dirt.
Musetti was bold with his tennis against the former French Open champion Stan Wawrinka who had been playing his tennis at Challenger level since returning on clay in Prague but was off the pace off the teenagers game who blew him away.
Stan Wawrinka played his returning tennis on the clay, he didn’t want to go to New York and decided to prepare for Roland Garros. Not many players let alone a break-out teenager defeat a former major winner 6-0 on their favourite surface but he did. A 6-0 set is fascinating because it asks questions of both players after and Stan did up his level but I loved the intensity of the Italian who didn’t drop off but stayed with Stan and on 6-0 7-6.
Following his win over Stan he got some appreciation from Rafa Nadal in his practice:
Next up was Kei Nishikori for the Italian. This win was less of a surprise but still impressive. I thought that Kei played well but I haven’t been convinced by his comeback and in all honesty I did like his body language against Lorezno.
Lorenzo in all his matches including his defeat in the third round against Koepfer played incredible attacking tennis and also his defensive anticipation matched with his firepower behind the forehand was sublime. I think an issue sometimes with younger players is having that one weapon but to be a great defender and have that variety on his forehand will be fascinating to see develop over the years and even more shots like this…