Novak Djokovic came from two sets down against Lorenzo Musetti on Monday to reach the quarter-finals of the French Open for a record 12th consecutive year after his opponent retired in the fifth set.

The world number one went into the contest with the 19-year-old having not dropped a set at these championships but found himself in big trouble after a gruelling first couple of hours.

It felt like a different match entirely after that, as Djokovic won 16 of the final 17 games before Musetti retired with the scores at 6-7 (7-9) 6-7 (2-7) 6-1 6-0 4-0 in the 2016 champion's favour.

The Serbian seemed unsettled by Musetti's unpredictable early approach, the teenager mixing up forehand speeds and backhand passes to good effect after an early exchange of breaks.

It looked like Djokovic had control of the opening tie-break only for Musetti to win five out of six points to lead 6-5. Two rasping forehands soon secured the set after a Djokovic error.

Belief in a shock upset really did begin to grow when Musetti took a 3-1 lead in the second set, at which point Djokovic literally took his hat off to his opponent. Whether it was psychological or his cap really was a bother, a bare-headed Djokovic promptly broke back to love.

Djokovic's error count dropped from 20 in the first set to 15 in the second, but the momentum still seemed to be with the Italian, who continued to paint the lines from both sides of the court even when it seemed impossible: early in the second tie-break, a reflex lob from the net somehow bounced on the baseline as his opponent watched in disbelief.

Deserved as his lead was, there was still a feeling that, should Musetti's standards slip even a touch, the door to the comeback would be open. Djokovic seemed to sense as much, returning from a bathroom break to power his way through the third set in just 28 minutes, less than half the time of each of the first two.

Suddenly, doubt crept into Musetti's play as Djokovic began to dictate. He won 16 points in a row to take a 4-0 lead in the fourth and broke again with the sort of drop-shot winner that Musetti had anticipated with ease in the opening two hours.

Djokovic was troubled by his lower back before the fifth set and needed treatment to his hand after somehow winning the first point on the Musetti serve despite falling heavily in the dirt.

Yet it was Musetti whose body could simply no longer keep up, his retirement ensuring Djokovic will now face Matteo Berrettini in the last eight.
 

Data Slam: Djokovic kept his cool as Musetti froze

Djokovic is rarely shy about showing his emotions on court, so it was interesting to see not a single outburst even after he fell 2-0 down.

Each player had won 85 points in those first two sets and Djokovic seemed to know this was no one-sided affair. When he moved up a gear and Musetti started to falter in mind and body, it was a totally different contest, Musetti winning just 18 points in the final 17 games.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Djokovic – 53/42
Musetti – 30/49

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Djokovic – 11/2
Musetti – 1/2

BREAK POINTS WON

Djokovic – 9/9
Musetti – 2/4

Roger Federer is enjoying the "whole rhythm thing" of playing at a grand slam again but admits he has no idea what he is capable of achieving at the French Open.

The Swiss looked sharp in his first-round match on Monday against Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin, posting a 6-2 6-4 6-3 win – coming through his first match at a major since the 2020 Australian Open and subsequent knee surgery.

It was partly his prowess but perhaps also the shortcomings of Istomin's performance that allowed 2009 champion Federer to put on a show on Court Philippe Chatrier, setting up a clash with a familiar foe in Marin Cilic next.

Federer and Cilic will be going head to head for an 11th time – Federer leads the series 9-1 – and for the first time since the 2018 Australian Open final, which went the way of Basle's 20-time grand slam winner in five sets.

It will be their sixth clash in a slam and at the earliest stage they have encountered each other at a major, with those past tussles also including the 2017 Wimbledon final, when an injury-hampered Cilic lost in straight sets.

Federer spoke after beating Istomin of how it is difficult to gauge what he might go on to manage at Roland Garros.

"In a way, I like this situation, that I don't know what's next, how my next match will be. I don't even know who I play, to be honest," Federer said.

"I take it round by round, match by match. I think it's going to help me, with the way I go about it. I'm very happy I won today. It gives me a chance again to test myself on Thursday, I believe. I don't know when I'm playing.

"So see how I feel tomorrow morning. Just all these things going through practice, coming to the site, seeing people, just this whole rhythm thing.

"It's nice to be back in it."

Federer is in Paris without his family due to COVID-19 restrictions and worries it will be the same story at Wimbledon.

But he added: "We signed up for it. I didn't do rehab to then sit at home again. There's a lot to look forward to."

MEDVEDEV WINS AT LAST

Daniil Medvedev's status as the second seed in Paris was the factor that made it possible for Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal to be drawn in the same half of the draw, which is what transpired.

There is an element of farce about Medvedev being seeded above 13-time Roland Garros champion Nadal, because the Russian has gone out in the first round in each of his previous visits to the clay-court slam.

However, on Monday, the world number two made a breakthrough, winning well in a match where he was expected to run into trouble as he earned a 6-3 6-3 7-5 victory over Kazakhstan's Alexander Bublik.

"It doesn't feel different than the Australian Open for me coming into this tournament. Now when I'm coming to these big tournaments feeling like this, I know I'm capable of doing big things," Medvedev said.

"If I lose here in Roland Garros it's probably going to be because my opponent will play really good."

NEXTGEN MAKE EARLY IMPACT

David Goffin, the Belgian 13th seed, lost 6-0 7-5 7-6 (7-3) to 19-year-old Italian Lorenzo Musetti, and it was a day when the sight of 39-year-old Federer turning on the style was balanced by the inspiring sight of the next generation showing their potential.

Musetti's fellow Italian Jannik Sinner is also 19 and is the 18th seed, showing on Monday he has the fight to come through tough battles, rallying from two sets to one down to beat experienced French player Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-1 4-6 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-4.

It was the first time Sinner had won a deciding set in a best-of-five match.

Sinner, Musetti and Spain's Carlos Alcaraz could all be major factors at Roland Garros in future years.

Alcaraz, who turned 18 in early May, followed up his run through qualifying and to the second round of the Australian Open by doing the same in the French capital.

He dropped only 11 games in winning three best-of-three-set qualifiers last week and was too strong for his 24-year-old compatriot Bernabe Zapata Miralles, snatching a 6-3 2-6 6-1 7-6 (7-4) win for a first senior win at Roland Garros.

"I think the mental game is really, really important in this kind of matches," Alcaraz said. "You have to be focused and calm all the match, like three hours and 10 minutes.

"It's really important and not easy to do. In the match I trusted a lot in my physical side. I could play really, really good game during the whole match."

Stefanos Tsitsipas insists it must be purely business when he tackles Italian teenager and fellow tennis artisan Lorenzo Musetti in the Lyon Open semi-finals.

Ahead of a tilt at the French Open, for which he is among the favourites, world number five Tsitsipas has been tuning up his game at this week's ATP 250 tournament.

The Greek star was sharp in posting a 6-3 6-4 win over Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka, and 19-year-old Italian Musetti awaits him on Saturday.

Tsitsipas dropped just four games when he crushed Musetti in an Acapulco semi-final in March, but he senses more of a threat this time from the exciting youngster.

"We played in different conditions. Acapulco was a hardcourt match and with altitude," said Tsitsipas, speaking on Amazon Prime. "The conditions here are different. He's someone who enjoys playing on clay.

"We share a similar game style I think with a one-handed backhand, which is beautiful to see, but tomorrow it's going to be serious business I knew he can play good on this surface. I know he can elevate his game, so it's important for me to be in the semi-finals."

Musetti overcame Slovenian Aljaz Bedene 6-3 7-6 (7-2) in their quarter-final, scrambling through a chaotic second set in which he trailed 5-2 at one stage but then reeled off four straight games, only to fail to serve out.

Thankfully for the youngster, he pulled through the tie-break.

"It was a crazy end," said Musetti. "I was 6-5 up, and at 30-30 played a really bad volley and hit an underarm serve. Sometimes I go out of my mind. I am really proud of myself as I was 2-5 down in the second set and I stayed focused. I tried to play each point at my best."

Russian Karen Khachanov marked his 25th birthday with a 6-1 7-6 (7-3) win over Frenchman Richard Gasquet, veteran doyen of the single-handed backhand.

Khachanov faced a wait to learn who he must face in the semi-finals, however, with Cameron Norrie and Arthur Rinderknech level at one set all overnight, after rain forced an early end to play.

At the Geneva Open, Norway's Casper Ruud will tackle Canadian Denis Shapovalov in Saturday's final.

Ruud saw off Spaniard Pablo Andujar 6-3 6-2, while Shapovalov earned a 6-4 7-5 win against Uruguayan qualifier Pablo Cuevas.

Two teenagers lit up the ATP Tour on Tuesday as Lorenzo Musetti raced through at the Sardegna Open and Carlos Alcaraz advanced in Marbella.

Musetti, 19, produced arguably the standout result of the day as he dismantled Dennis Novak, wrapping up a 6-1 6-0 win in just 53 minutes.

"It was an incredible match," said Musetti, who has been in impressive form of late and moved to 6-2 for the year.

The Italian reached the last four in Acapulco, where ninth-ranked Diego Schwartzmann fell at his racket.

He added on Tuesday: "From the beginning, I felt so comfortable on the court and hitting the ball. I had really good feelings."

Musetti will face top seed Dan Evans next in Cagliari, where Jan-Lennard Struff had to save five match points before finally seeing off Joao Sousa.

None of the seeds followed Monday losers Guido Pella and Tommy Paul out of the tournament, as John Millman also triumphed. Gilles Simon shook off Stefano Travaglia.

At the Andalucia Open, 17-year-old Alcaraz insisted he still saw room for improvement despite setting up an exciting meeting with veteran compatriot Feliciano Lopez.

Sixth seed Lopez, who turns 40 in September and made his professional bow six years before Alcaraz was born, will be wary of the threat of the self-critical prospect, a 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 winner against Nikola Milojevic.

"I have played a great match and above all I have been with a very high intensity from the beginning to the end," wildcard Alcaraz said, quoted on the ATP website.

"If I had to give myself a grade, it would be a nine [out of 10], because you can always play better."

Lopez defeated Taro Daniel, while number five seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina came from behind to beat Damir Dzumhur 6-7 (1-7) 6-2 6-2.

Lorenzo Musetti built on his good form with a first-round victory over Michael Mmoh at the Miami Open on Thursday.

Emerging star Musetti defeated American qualifier Mmoh 6-4 6-4 to set up a second-round meeting with 23rd seed Benoit Paire.

Former US Open champion Marin Cilic also progressed in a three-set victory over Federico Coria, while Thanasi Kokkinakis, Sebastian Korda, Tennys Sandgren and Jordan Thompson were other winners.

Former top-five player Kevin Anderson was among those to bow out in the first round of the ATP 1000 event.

 

STAR ON THE RISE

Italian teenager Musetti continued his rapid rise with a hard-fought victory over Mmoh.

The 19-year-old Musetti reached the semi-finals of last week's Mexican Open, where he beat both Diego Schwartzman and Grigor Dimitrov en route to the semi-finals.

This week, Musetti battled past wildcard Mmoh in one hour, 38 minutes.

"Last week was a fantastic run in Acapulco," Musetti said in his on-court interview. " I played a really good match, it was a tough match.

"I think my lethal weapon is the backhand down the line."

 

CILIC SLICE OF FORTUNE

Former world number three Cilic secured his place in the second round with a 6-3 2-6 6-4 victory against Federico Coria.

However, Cilic – the 2014 US Open winner – had a huge slice of luck to claim a break back in the first.

The Croatian got lucky down a break at 2-1 but up 30-40 in the first when he mishit his overhead attempt, striking his frame and bobbling over for a drop shot winner to level.

"It was important for me to keep my head down, keep the focus and just try to get the best level I could today," Cilic said.

 

FOND MEMORIES FOR THANASI

Australian qualifier Kokkinakis' fond memories in Miami returned with a 6-3 6-3 win over Shintaro Mochizuki as he continues his positive return from a shoulder injury.

Kokkinakis beat then-world number one Roger Federer in Miami in 2018.

Korda won his Miami Open debut match, triumphing 6-3 6-0 over Radu Albot to set up a meeting with 10th seed Fabio Fognini.

Jordan Thompson will face Milos Raonic after accounting for Federico Delbonis 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 in two hours, 12 minutes.

Sandgren – a two-time Australian Open quarter-finalist – got past Pedro Martinez 6-4 2-0, with the Spaniard retiring.

Wimbledon and US Open runner-up Anderson was a surprise casualty, going down 7-6 (8-6) 7-5 to lucky loser Damir Dzumhur.

"I know that my game can be much better than what I'm showing right now and my position in the ATP Rankings can be much better," Dzumhur said.

Top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was made to sweat but got past Felix Auger-Aliassime in three sets to reach the Mexican Open semi-finals on Thursday.

World number five Tsitsipas, who was a semi-finalist at last month's Australian Open, defeated seventh seed Auger-Aliassime 7-5 4-6 6-3 in Acapulco.

In a tight contest, back-to-back double faults from Canadian sensation Auger-Aliassime in the eighth game of the third set proved costly as Tsitsipas broke after the pair had held serve throughout the last.

"It got really tight," Tsitsipas said in his post-game interview. "I got a bit lucky with the double faults towards the end of the match.

"I was just persistent. Towards the end I had zoned in 100 per cent. Both of us brought an amazing energy out on the court. Felix is someone I've played a lot and I have huge respect for him."

Greek star Tsitsipas will next play emerging Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti for a spot in the ATP 500 tournament decider.

Qualifier Musetti, who upstaged third seed Diego Schwartzman in the first round, stunned fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 7-6 (7-3) in the final match of the day.

The 19-year-old Musetti will now contest his maiden ATP 500-level semi-final as he prepares to enter the top 100 on the men's tour after just his fourth main-draw appearance.

Alexander Zverev – the German second seed – progressed to the semi-finals with a walkover after eighth seed Casper Ruud withdrew due to a wrist injury sustained in practice.

Zverev will play countryman Dominik Koepfer in the final four after he defeated Cameron Norrie 7-5 6-4, maintaining his run of not dropping a set all tournament.

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