Musetti Fights To Beat Felix In Lyon
The 19-year-old Italian overcame fellow #NextGenATP star and seventh-seeded Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6(3), 3-6, 7-5 in two hours and 46 minutes at the ATP 250 clay-court event.
“We played a really intense match, a real fight,” said Musetti. “I learned from the loss to Felix in Barcelona. It’s a good start and I hope to continue like that.”
Musetti, who has now won 10 of his 16 tour-level matches this year, including a run to the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC semi-finals (l. to Tsitsipas), will now challenge Sebastian Korda. The American sits behind Auger-Aliassime and Musetti in the ATP Race To Milan for a place at the Next Gen ATP Finals in November.
“It’s going to be really tough [against Korda] and he’s one of the best #NextGenATP right now,” said Musetti. “I know him so well from juniors. We never played against each other. He is a fighter, so I will try and do my best to get into the quarter-finals.”
Musetti is currently at a career-high No. 82 in the FedEx ATP Rankings and is 5-3 lifetime against Top 20 opponents, having beat Stan Wawrinka (2020 Rome), Diego Schwartzman and Grigor Dimitrov (2021 Acapulco) and Hubert Hurkacz (2021 Rome).
Musetti recovered from 15/40 down in the opening game and soon caused 2019 Lyon finalist Auger-Aliassime problems. Regularly stepping inside the baseline, Musetti broke for a 3-1 advantage when Auger-Aliassime mis-hit a forehand, but the momentum soon changed.
Tactical errors started to cost Musetti, who was broken in the seventh game and Auger-Aliassime could have taken a 5-4 lead, but the Canadian hit a return long on break point. Musetti broke clear at 3/3 in the tie-break with three consecutive winners en route to the 64-minute opener.
Auger-Aliassime bounced back early in the second set, breaking serve with a powerful forehand winner for a 2-0 lead. Despite letting Musetti back in, the Canadian pressed again with his forehand and surged to a 5-2 advantage, before closing out the second set with a smash.
Auger-Aliassime twice came close to breaking Musetti in the decider and later paid the price, when he hit a backhand approach into the net at 2-3, 15/40. But the World No. 17 put Musetti under pressure when the Italian served for the match at 5-3 and got his reward. The match ended on a double fault from Auger-Aliassime, who drops to a 14-10 record in 2021.
In other matches on Tuesday, Tommy Paul defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, fifth seed Gael Monfils eased past Thiago Seyboth Wild and Karen Khachanov outlasted wild card Benjamin Bonzi in a third-set tie-break. Rain postponed the clash between Jannik Sinner and Aslan Karatsev to Wednesday.