The day that Lorenzo Musetti He was born in a small municipality in Italian Tuscany, some of those who would be his rivals were already seeking their fortune on the slopes of the whole world. He did not know, but 17 years later he would stand in the Central Court of the Italic Forum to beat two players who know what it’s like to be in Grand Slam finals. Lorenzo was taking his first steps at home, Wawrinka was taking his first steps on the circuit. Now it is Musetti, who has become one of the greatest promises in world tennis, who is taking his first steps at the ATP level.
And what steps have you taken. Giant, rather. For many, this young tennis player born in Carrara was a true stranger. Of course, to the surprise of many, his entry into the main draw was not given by one of the typical invitations: he earned it based on his own merits, by overcoming a very hard previous phase of three matches on the same stage that would later make him the focus of world tennis. It does not matter that there were no Italians in the stands to support him: Musetti did not need them to access, with 17 years, to the round of 16 of an entire Masters 1000.
But let’s look back and stop at the path that Lorenzo has traveled to get here. Understand the context the tennis of his country gives us a clue as to why he succeeded so early. The extreme competitiveness of his generation finds its origin in the extensive remodeling of the tennis infrastructures in Italy. A huge investment in basic tennis done correctly: money that was used to create new Futures and Challengers, as well as to bring in coaches with extensive knowledge of the game (especially from countries like Argentina).
Musetti, in fact, was within a week savoring the benefits of this system, competing in numerous Challengers on clay in his own country. Before all this, Lorenzo was already one of the juniors most laureates in the world. I fall short: he was the best. He was number one, and it is not surprising based on his results: he was a finalist in the 2018 Us Open (he fell to Thiago Seyboth Wild, who is already an ATP title champion) and was compensated months later in the Open de Australia 2019 (He beat American Emilio Nava in an electric final).
Lorenzo was born in 2002, but one of his peers and friends was already making headlines as he tried to hatch. It was nothing more and nothing less than Jannik Sinner, deified by many and who was already beginning to take advantage of his peers in a generation blessed with other great projects (such as Giulio Zeppieri or Matteo Gigante). Few remember this, but in 2019, Sinner’s exploding year on the circuit, the two met in a qualifying tournament to win a wildcard to the Rome main draw. Jannik won after saving a match ball.
It is 2020, While his friend was already playing Grand Slams, Musetti began his career in Challengers tournaments away from his natural habitat, the clay. The pandemic stopped everything. However, as seems to be the case for other young people (see Carlos Alcaraz), this stop along the way could be a ‘Every cloud has a silver lining‘for Lorenzo. It has given him time to polish his game, learn from the best, and establish a clear route through the large number of clay-court Challengers after the restart. In between, of course, there is the surprise of Rome.
Semifinals in Trieste and quarterfinals in Cordenons. Merit victories and, especially, a jump of almost forty positions in the ranking. Within the top-250, Musetti has broken out a bit earlier than we all thought, taking many analysts by surprise. No, of course, those who have already seen him in the junior circuit or in the Challengers aforementioned; even in Dubai, where he faced Andrey Rublev in his first ATP game.
That game is already far away. The Musetti that we have seen in Rome is, without a doubt, his best version. The Italian has given capsules of his tremendous projection, accompanying his tennis with high doses of claw, courage and a lot of determination to close matches that could get complicated. One of the things to highlight, without a doubt, is how he has not hesitated to close duels that he has dominated. Nor against Stan Wawrinka nor against Kei Nishikori He hinted that his hand was tense: he closed both games in two sets.
Lorenzo’s game follows the patterns of what a pure Earthling is. Although his greatest successes in junior came on hard court, Musetti is by no means a top server, although he is capable of placing his goals with great precision. services. The first blow serves as a prelude to your continuation blow, with which you try to gain control of the exchange. Topspin shots predominate, especially on his forehand.
That right It is a hit that, once he develops his physical complexion and gains power in his shots, it will pay off in the future. Today it is a coup with few variants, but it works luxuriously on land: “pica” a lot and allows you to get on track with ease. Of all his shots, he is the one with the most margin above the net, highlighting the crossed inverted forehand. It is only when he’s in trouble, on the run, that Musetti decides to change his grip and throw a flat club that, curiously, dominates extraordinarily well for the risk involved.
If the forehand is a ‘pure’ clay court shot, the reverse is tremendously versatile. It is the blow with which Musetti performs tricks, with which he changes the rhythm of the exchanges. You can throw it flat, and for proof are your exhibits with the parallel backhand this week. It’s really wonderful to see Lorenzo throw, when he has the time and space, a direct backhand over the line. He dominates it like nobody else and it helps him get on the track. There, when he sees his rival on the canvas, another decisive element of his tennis enters.
And that’s the left. A variant rarely used by players of pure power, Musetti has tremendous confidence with this shot. He is able to leave his opponents seated, he hides it very well and hits it from anywhere. At 17 years old, the problem with the left-hander is that, when tennis does not accompany, it becomes an overused resource. It is a double-edged sword, as was well demonstrated in his last defeat against Koepfer, where abuse of the left due to the physical problems in his shoulder. And when you abuse, your opponent reads it easily.
His career at the Foro Italico has already ended, but Lorenzo has secured a ticket to top-200. He himself has declared that his path continues along the Challengers route: next week he will play in Forli, on his hometown, where he will also compete in the inaugural tournament of Sardinia. It is what you have to do well. His friend Sinner has said that he sees in Musetti a bigger roof than his own: Carrara’s, meanwhile, takes weight off and claims that he has yet to vastly improve his physical if you want to go far.
In fact, if to end this analysis you asked me to point out a guy with whom to compare Lorenzo in depth and form, with whom I find the most similarities is with a joven Richard Gasquet. In his confidence, self-confidence, way of hitting the whip with the parallel backhand and his topspin shots. And one of Gasquet’s greatest debts throughout his career has ended up being his physical condition, with wide gaps when the match lasted to five sets. Richard did not quite meet the expectations created … but if I have to get wet, I think Musetti will. Only time will give and take away reasons.