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Musetti Wins Three-Set Thriller Over Schwartzman in Acapulco Tennis, Faces Tiafoe Next

Lorenzo Musetti of Italy celebrates after defeating Diego Schwartzman of Argentina during the second day of the Mexican Tennis Open in Acapulco, Guerrero state, Mexico, 16 March 2021. EPA-EFE/David Guzman



By Ricky Dimon

Last season suggested that 2021 could be Lorenzo Musetti’s year.

The Italian teenager started to make a name for himself in 2020, rising from No. 360 to No. 128 in the rankings thanks in part to an impressive run on home soil at the Rome Masters. He upset Stan Wawrinka and reached the third round as a qualifier. Musetti also made a semifinal appearance at an ATP 250 in Sardinia and he captured a Challenger title in Forli.

Now 19 years old, Musetti is back in the headlines at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel–a 500-point event in Acapulco. After also qualifying for this draw, the world No. 120 maintained momentum by beating third seed Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 for the first top-10 win over his career. Musetti survived late drama in this first-round showdown to cross the finish line after two hours and 22 minutes on Tuesday night.

epa09078954 Lorenzo Musetti of Italy in action against Diego Schwartzman of Argentina during the second day of the Mexican Tennis Open in Acapulco, Guerrero state, Mexico, 16 March 2021. EPA-EFE/David Guzman



After splitting the first two sets, Musetti seized leads of 4-0 and 5-1 in the decider over Schwartzman–a recent champion on the clay courts of Buenos Aires. However, it was far from over. The ninth-ranked Argentine saved three match points while serving at 1-5, fought off another to one at 2-5, and then held easily for 4-5. Musetti missed a fifth match point after an incredible rally on his serve in the final game, but he finally capitalized on his sixth chance when Schwartzman netted a backhand.

Diego Schwartzman of Argentina in action against Lorenzo Musetti of Italy during the second day of the Mexican Tennis Open in Acapulco, Guerrero state, Mexico, 16 March 2021. EPA-EFE/David Guzman

“Of course behind (the scenes) there is a lot of work, a lot of sacrifice,” Musetti noted. “In the end there were some tears. I’m really proud of myself…. At the beginning I was a little bit nervous. He broke me, then I broke him and I started to move a little bit better and was a little bit more relaxed. My forehand was the key. He’s a great player, but tonight I gave one of my best matches ever.

“I was born on clay–in Italy–but I’ve been feeling really good since the first day in Acapulco. I like the conditions. I think I’m going to play better and better every day…. Now I’m going to work harder and focus on the next days.”

Next up for Musetti is Frances Tiafoe, who outlasted fellow American Brandon Nakashima in a third-set tiebreaker.

Other winners on Tuesday in Acapulco were Stefanos Tsitsipas, Fabio Fognini, Milos Raonic, Miomir Kecmanovic, Grigor Dimitrov, Cameron Norrie, and Tallon Griekspoor.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.