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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday March 25, 2021


Two of the most intriguing young talents in men’s tennis earned their first ever Miami Open wins late on Thursday evening, as 20-year-old American Sebastian Korda and 19-year-old Lorenzo Musetti each powered through in straight sets to book their spots in round two.

Tennis Express


It’s great news for both players, who are hungry for experience on the ATP Tour (Korda played his 17th ATP match tonight and Musetti played his 13th), and it’s also great news for fans of the sport that these two talents are already displaying an impressive level of consistency.

Musetti has won nine of his 13 tour-level matches and has reached two semifinals in his first four ATP events. Today he earned his first Masters 1000 hard court win with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Michael Mmoh. The victory featured plenty of vintage Musetti improvisation—drop shots, variation off the backhand side, surprisingly good defense and a flair for playing better on the biggest points.

Musetti fell behind 0-40 while serving for the match but didn’t flinch. He played perfectly from that point to finish off Mmoh and book a second-round clash with Benoit Paire. Frankly, given how erratic Paire’s behavior—and play—has been of late, it’s very difficult not to see another win coming for the virtuosic Italian.


Surely the Musetti bandwagon will grow all season, especially when the talented Italian gets to his beloved clay, and it could continue to grow this weekend, as it isn’t that hard to picture him making a trip to the quarterfinals in his section of the draw. If he gets past Paire he’ll face the winner of Cristian Garin and Marin Cilic for that opportunity.

No matter what happens, Musetti has gained valuable hard court experience with his semifinal appearance in Acapulco, where he lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas, and in Miami, where he is proving that he can take care of business early in tournaments against lower-ranked players. He was very solid against Mmoh today, who didn’t play poorly at all.

Playing at the same time as Musetti Thursday was Korda, the 20-year-old son of former World No.2 Petr Korda who reached the Delray Beach final in January.

Korda upset Marin Cilic last week in Acapulco but floundered a bit in his next match against Felix Auger-Aliassime. He just couldn’t find the court in that second-round contest, but credit to the American for shaking the defeat off—he was close to perfect tonight as he picked apart Moldova’s Radu Albot to set up a second-round clash with Fabio Fognini.


It was Korda’s first Masters 1000 victory, and judging from his game, he could end his career with several hundred. He’s so composed on the court, and yet strikes the ball with quite a bit of brute force. Korda is a clean ball-striker off of both wings and generates a lot of easy power with impeccable timing and a natural fluidity of swing. He just makes it look easy out there, and boasts an extremely well balanced game.

He rarely looks bothered or overmatched, and he frequently gets the better of the court positioning battle. Korda likes to park himself on the baseline where he can catch balls on the rise and cut off angles more easily, and he plays this style well. He can hit also for power off of both wings, come to the net and knock off volleys and he’s very solid and productive off the serve and return. It’s no wonder that the 2018 Australian Open Boys Singles champion was able to reach the round of 16 at Roland-Garros on his debut last fall—his pro style game is built for success.

It remains to be seen how well Korda and Musetti will progress, both in the short term and the long term, but each passes the eyeball test with flying colors. They are very different players stylistically, but both are a joy to watch and hard to not get excited about.

 

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