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Lorenzo Musetti Upsets Novak Djokovic in Monte-Carlo

Photo credit: Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters Facebook

In an epic tennis turf war, Lorenzo Musetti conjured magical strikes down the stretch to make Novak Djokovic disappear.

In a fierce and unruly clash between Monte-Carlo residents, Musetti broke eight times shocking Djokovic 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 for his first career win over a reigning world No. 1 to secure his spot in the Rolex Monte-Carlo quarterfinals.

Facing the 22-time Grand Slam champion he had never beaten, swirling conditions that wreaked havoc on ball tosses, a rain-delay at the start of the final set and draining physical rallies after play resumed, Musetti held his nerve and stung two of his six aces in the final game to close an emotional triumph.

Playing with a black wrapping around his right elbow, a disconsolate Djokovic was brief in his post-match presser.

“Well, feeling is terrible after playing like this, honestly,” Djokovic told the media in Monte-Carlo. “But congrats to him.

“He stayed tough in important moments, and that’s it. That’s all I can say. Good luck to him.”

“I’m struggling to not cry because it’s really an emotional win,” Musetti said in his on-court interview. “Because it was a really long match, three hours of match, suspended because of the rain.

“For sure, it was not easy conditions, it was a bit windy at the beginning and cold so not like we’re used to playing in the last days. So I  think it counts maybe twice. So I’m really, really, really proud of myself. I can see that on the screen and I’m struggling not to cry because it’s still a dream for me.”

At times, this baseline battle featured more breaks than a Sara Errani match.

The pair combined for 15 service breaks, including Djokovic breaking four times in a row in one stretch, and ultimately Musetti’s ability to defend his second serve better proved pivotal.

The 21-year-old Italian hit five more winners—28 to 23—and won 51 percent of his service points. Musetti now owns career wins over No. 1 Djokovic and former No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, whom he defeated last season to win his maiden clay crown in Hamburg.

Two-time Monte-Carlo champion Djokovic, playing just his second match in the last five weeks, showed rust on serve winning only 12 of 31 second-serve points.

Bidding to break Fognini’s record and become the oldest Monte-Carlo champion in history, Djokovic lacked the consistency that comes from match play and ran out of answers against a fit and fast Musetti, who rode the wave of Italian fans screaming for the upset.

“I don’t think it’s catastrophic, but my feeling is bad right now because I lost the match,” Djokovic said. “That’s all. Congrats to my opponent. I move on.”