© Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Coach Simone Tartarini oversees a practice session with Lorenzo Musetti (centre) at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals.

Tartarini’s Key For Musetti: ‘We Don’t Want Confusion’

The Italian coach discusses relationship with Milan debutant

In a season of breakthroughs and first-times, there’s always been one constant for Lorenzo Musetti

The 19-year-old #NextGenATP earned his first Top 10 win, made his mark at the Grand Slam level with a run to the fourth round in his Roland Garros debut and earned a career-high No. 57 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. Through it all, he’s had the support of longtime coach Simone Tartarini.

The pair started working together when Musetti was eight, and 11 years later their partnership is still going strong as the teenager ascends to new heights.  

With the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in full swing in Milan, ATPTour.com caught up with the Italian for the latest edition of Coaches’ Corner...

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How cool is it for Lorenzo to be here in Milan where the Italian fans are going to come to support him?
To play in Italy for Lorenzo is the best. He also played well in Rome this year. For Lorenzo to play in Milan, it is a good chance. He likes to play in Milan and likes the court. It is good and easy for him… His parents will come, they normally watch on TV. 

Q: When Lorenzo was young, you took him to watch pro tennis. What’s it like to have people now coming to watch him?
There is lots of attention for the young players because now there are many players who are very good on the ATP Tour. Carlos Alcaraz is the best. [Holger Vitus Nodskov] Rune is a very, very good player. [Sebastian] Korda the same and [Jenson] Brooksby. For me, every tournament when Alcaraz, Korda or Lorenzo play, many people watch the match because they are new players. 

Now Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov are old for the people even though they are 21, 22! Lorenzo likes it. It is important for him to have confidence when he plays. Sometimes in the second half of the season, he had no confidence when he played.

Q: What does confidence do to his tennis?
I think Lorenzo is a big talent. When he was young, every time Lorenzo played tennis, he did drop shots and lobs too much. When he was 12 years old, many shots were slices, drop shots. For me it was okay, but it is totally different now with different tactics. 

For Lorenzo, it is not easy. Every match he has to change his tactics. One match, he has four or five different solutions. I want more structure instead of four or five. It is not easy if Lorenzo changes every time and every point. I told Lorenzo it is 70 per cent me, 30 per cent you. We don’t want confusion. Sometimes he loves playing with variety. 

The past two months, we have worked only on serving and returning. We are focussing on the second shot because with Lorenzo, I need to have a strategy that is always similar. We go through the same situation. Different player, same situation. For me, that is important.

Q: How proud are you of him now he is on a stage like this?
For me, it is the same. Lorenzo is the same player as he was when he was young. He just changes tactically for strategy. I saw the movie 'Totti,' about the best [football] player. I saw that when he was younger, he was the best player. In the same situation every time the ball arrived, he did the same thing. For Lorenzo, it is the same. If you saw him at 12, he played the same, it is just the tactics [that have changed].

Q: You have worked with Lorenzo since he was a boy. How has your relationship changed?
The relationship with me is the same. When he was 10 years old, I was like a father or an uncle. Now we are best friends. He started with me at eight years old and now he is 19. It is a great satisfaction to see Lorenzo and I hope we stay together until Lorenzo finishes as a professional player, but I don’t know what will happen in the future. 

Lorenzo is a good boy. For me, Lorenzo can become a Top 10 player. That is a possibility. But Lorenzo must work every day. We will see, I think in two or three years, I hope he will become one of the best players.

Q: It has been a very exciting year. How much of a rollercoaster has it been?
For Lorenzo, it has been a beautiful year. In the first half, from January to June with Roland Garros, we had the best results. After Acapulco, Miami he had good results. The next month on clay, Lorenzo played very well. For me, he is the best on clay because of his technique and it is better to play on clay. 

I remember the Lyon semi-final against [Stefanos] Tsitsipas. He had won against [Sebastian] Korda, [Felix] Auger-Aliassime and [Aljaz] Bedene and it was excellent. Against Tsitsipas he won the first set, then lost the second set and then the third set easily. After Roland Garros, we had a few problems because Lorenzo stopped for four weeks because he needed to finish school, which was important for him.

He didn’t play any tournaments on grass, just on my grass court. I had a court inside a football field. It was different, of course. He lost the first round at Wimbledon against [Hubert] Hurkacz. Then the other problem was he needed to change his schedule because he had two weeks off to practise and then we had three weeks in Bastad, Umag and Kitzbuhel…

Now it is better. Indoors he played well in Antwerp. [Gianluca] Mager was a good match and against [Jannik] Sinner, it was a good first set. Against [Gael] Monfils in Vienna, it was good tennis and the same in Paris. He lost the last match against [James] Duckworth. He had a big problem that morning ahead of that match. He woke up in the morning and was unable to move his shoulder. The past month has been better. Now at the [Intesa] Next Gen [ATP Finals], we finish the year. It has been a long, but good year.