Facebook Social Button Twitter Social Button Follow Us on InstagramYouTube Social Button
NewsScoresRankingsLucky Letcord PodcastShopPro GearPickleballGear Sale

By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Thursday, April 11, 2024


World No. 1 Novak Djokovic defeated Lorenzo Musetti 7-5, 6-3 to reach his 10th Monte-Carlo quarterfinal and first since 2019.

Photo credit: Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters Facebook

Revisiting a home horror didn’t scare Novak Djokovic.

Down a break to Lorenzo Musetti today, Djokovic turned up the aggression and accuracy then showed the talented Italian the door.

More: Alcaraz out of Monte-Carlo

The top-seeded Djokovic won 11 of the last 15 games, muting Musetti 7-5, 6-3 to reach his 10th Monte-Carlo quarterfinal and first since 2019.

The world No. 1 joins rival Rafael Nadal as the second man to advanced to 10 Monte-Carlo quarterfinals.

It is Djokovic's ninth consecutive clay-court win, a streak dating back to his 2023 Roland Garros title run.

"He was the better player for eight games. Then at 4-3, new balls, match turned around," Djokovic told the media in Monte-Carlo. "Really I had this nice interaction with the crowd, and then from that moment on, you know, he maybe lost his focus a bit, you know, made some unforced errors, and the momentum shifted.

"I feel like I, from that moment onwards, was playing better and kind of managed to, I guess, implement the kind of game that I really want tactically.

"But it was very physical. Struggling a bit on the court as well today, myself. But I like the way I'm playing in terms of comparison to last year. You know, I think I'm playing better tennis."

Djokovic avenged his 2023 three-set loss to Musetti at the same stage of the Monte-Carlo tournament on the same court. In a fierce and unruly clash between Monte-Carlo residents last April, 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.

Ahead of this rematch, Djokovic, who had suffered four of his last five defeats at the hands of Italians, said he was ready for a fight without fright.

"I'm not scared of anything and anybody, but I really hope that I can get the chance to play him again,” Djokovic said.

The match still had some scary moments for Djokovic, who was one point away from going down a double break at 1-4 in the first set and then suffered some apparent spasms that caused his right hand to shake repeatedly on a changeover near the end of the match.

Overall, Djokovic didn’t reach the dominant heights he showed in his opening-round sweep of Roman Safiullin, but he certainly elevated his level on pivotal points today. Djokovic converted five of six break points improving to 10-3 in 2024.

The Grand Slam king will try to continue his revenge tour against Alex de Minaur in the quarterfinals.

Aussie No. 1 de Minaur defeated Davis Cup teammate Alexei Popyrin 6-3, 6-4 to set up a quarterfinal clash vs. Djokovic.

At the United Cup last January, de Minaur swept Djokovic 6-4, 6-4 scoring his first career win over a world No. 1 before raucous home fans in Perth, Australia.

In today’s rematch vs. Musetti, Djokovic dragged a forehand into net dropping serve to open.

It was Musetti’s ninth break of the tournament and he backed it up at 15 for a 2-0 lead.

Serving at 30-all, Musetti lasered a 91 mph backhand strike down the line for game point. Djokovic reads the court as if it were an eye chart, but was befuddled when the Italian ran around his backhand and carved out a leaping forehand drop shot winner from behind the baseline for 3-1.

The bearded Italian was one point from a double break in the next game.

Digging in, Djokovic denied a break point to hold in the fifth game.

Whipping his crackling topspin backhand down the line helped Musetti st When Djokovic questioned a Musetti serve, which Hawk-Eye showed landed long, some Monte-Carlo fans whistled and jeered prompting the Serbian to cup his hand against his ear in a “let me hear it” gesture.

That emotional call and response seemed to settle Djokovic. Musetti was up 40-love when he missed an open-court forehand. Djokovic took that single gift and rain with it rallying from love-40 down to break back and even after eight games.

The Serbian’s smash is the one occasionally suspect shot in his outstanding arsenal. Musetti knows it and tested the top seed with a lob that Djokovic badly bungled into net to draw even at deuce. Djokovic shook it off with a serve-and-volley edging ahead 5-4.

Driving the ball deeper, Djokovic was dictating more baseline exchanges. Djokovic spread the court with a churning forehand into the corner drawing a netted response for set point.

All the good work Musetti did at the start of the set dissolved as he double faulted on set point.

Djokovic rolled through five of the final six games to snatch a 68-minute opening set in which he was one point away from going down a double break. The world No. 1 committed three more unforced errors in the set—15 to 12—but also pressed forward at the right times winning 11 of 17 net trips.

By the early stages of the second set, Djokovic was striking with accuracy and Musetti was looking like a man running out of ideas to reverse the plot line.

Approaching on a volley that sat up, Musetti paid the price as Djokovic drilled a clean forehand pass breaking for his fourth consecutive game and a 2-0 second-set lead.

The backhand helped Musetti snap his slide.

A brilliant backhand winner down the line followed by a deep backhand return saw the Italian break back in the third game.

Still, Djokovic was controlling the center of the court more effectively and Musetti started taking bigger risk. Sailing a forehand down the line, Musetti then netted a forehand drop shot gifting the break and 3-1 lead to Djokovic after 92 minutes.

In a pressure-packed seventh game that popped with draining duels, Musetti spun a backhand pass crosscourt to break back and get back on serve at 3-4.

During the changeover, an ice towel was wrapped around Djokovic’s neck and his right hand was visibly shaking as his fingers held onto the towel.

"Well, I must say that at some moments of the game today I was really not feeling great physically," Djokovic said. "But that's also part of the first several matches on clay. You know, when you play somebody as strong as Musetti, you know, where you have to earn your victory, have to work physically very hard, it's kind of, yeah, very much possible that it will happen where you will somehow hit the wall physically and you have to kind of find a way up from that.

"Yeah, but I managed to find a way. That's what matters the most. I keep going. I have to, as I said, believe that the process of training and everything that I'm doing with my team is going to give me rewards.

"I'm already feeling some great things on the court these few days, and that's what matters the most for me, I mean, that I'm on the right path."

There was no sign of physical fragility when play resumed as a sliding Djokovic carved out a forehand dig to help him earn two break points.

On the second break point, Musetti tried tying the Serbian up with the body serve. Djokovic took a couple of quick steps to his left and lashed a flat forehand return winner down the line breaking with a bang for 5-3.

The reigning Roland Garros champion served it out at love, wrapping up a one hour, 58-minute victory.


Latest News