Lorenzo Musetti, the Italian who “stole” Roger Federer’s backhand and astonished everyone in Rome

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At just 18 years old, he is the first player born in 2002 to win a Masters 1000 match. He did it big: he surprised the Swiss Stan Wawrinka. His story.

Lorenzo Musetti is the Italian who amazes in Rome and surprises the world of tennis after beating Stan Wawrinka and becoming the first player born in 2002 in winning a match in a Masters 1000, the most important tournaments behind the four Grand Slams.

Some acne on the face; long hair; cap with the visor back; mature gestures and reminiscences of Roger Federer, the mirror in which he looked at himself during his childhood; and an exquisite one-handed backhand that is already his trademark and a blow that, he swears, is “a natural shot” and not a Swiss imitation.

“I hope to play like him. I hit the one-handed backhand, for me it is a natural shot, and it allows me to put my opponents in difficulty, even with short balls,” he said last year on thetennispodcast, when he was already drawing attention for his career in juniors, where he became the first Italian to win a Grand Slam, the 2019 Australian Open.

But winning a Grand Slam at age 16 was no surprise to a boy who started hitting a tennis ball at age 4. against the basement wall of his grandmother’s house in Carrara, infected by the passion of his father, a worker in a marble company, the main activity in that Tuscan city.

Of course, Lorenzo’s new hobby could be irritating at times and his parents did not take long to write it down in the Junior Tennis Club of Carrara so that he could develop his tennis there and not at nonna’s house. They did not take long to convince him with the excuse of “making new friends and having fun” but there they realized very quickly that the boy had talent and that school would not be enough.

At the age of 8, Lorenzo participated in the team championships at Circolo Tennis Spezia, 30 kilometers from his home, where he met Simone Tartarini, who later became his coach and a second father on the circuit.

“At first I went there a couple of times a week, but I had more fun than in Carrara, so the times became three, then four, until I moved exclusively to La Spezia,” he recalled in an interview that collects el diary Il Corriere.

When Tartarini moved to the Tennis Junior club in San Benedetto, also in La Spezia, Lorenzo followed him. But the coach quickly realized that this training would not be enough because his pupil needed sparring “to face himself.”

So in 2016 they started going once every six weeks to the Academia by Patrick Mouratoglou in France, recognized for making talents. The Serena Williams coach’s training ground routine was repeated for years, in which Musetti reached her first Grand Slam final (US Open 2018), her title at Australia 2019 and the junior ranking number 1.

Soon Musetti signed a contract with Nike, which in addition to sponsoring him supported him financially in his tennis growth, as with the Champ Seed foundation that helps young promises, as he did in the past with the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas.

“Junior tennis is a process. You start at the bottom and work to become a professional. It is very important to play junior tennis and as you progress it gives you the confidence to play in big events. My ambitions were win a Grand Slam and reach number 1 on the leaderboard. To achieve those goals, I am very proud, “he said.

Off the circuit, he competed for Italy in the 2016 ITF Junior Tennis World Finals in Prostejov and the 2018 Junior Davis Cup in Budapest, as well as the 2018 ITF Junior Finals in Chengdu, three flagship ITF tournaments. until in 2019 he took the leap and turned professional.

The first victories came at age 16 and the first title on October 20, 2019 at Futures in Antalya. His triumphant debut in ATP bullfighting was in the Australian Open qualifying this year, which he entered with an invitation, although in the main draw the first was this one from Rome.

His performance allowed him to get among the 300 best in the world, although he could take another leap in the ranking after passing through the Foro Italico, where he arrived as the 249th in the world.

Precisely, in the Italian Masters 1,000 standings, he beat Giulio Zeppieri, his friend and doubles partner who is a year older than him and has Rafael Nadal as an idol because they share the left-handed footing as a skillful hand.

Then it was the turn of Wawrinka, a finalist in the Foro Italico in 2008, a three-time Grand Slam champion and former world number 3, who had already won ATP points when Musetti was born. She got past it in just one hour and 23 minutes, winning 49 percent of her return points and breaking the Swiss’s serve four times.

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