Continuing with this series, the Young Guns of the Future, today it’s the turn to showcase Lorenzo Musetti of Italy, a player whose one-handed backhand could go on to become the talk of the town.
Lorenzo Musetti has not done it the fast way, but he has done it the right way for sure. He has gone from low to high. The 17-year-old Italian, now a professional player lost in the first round at the juniors French Open, then he got to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon and finally at the U.S Open he got to the final, where after forcing the match to a third set he still came up short losing in 2-6 in the final set.
With a player this young, a loss like that would only mean the beginning of a promising career, but still, you never know if you are going to have another opportunity to be called a juniors Grand Slam champion.
And yet he did, starting the new year by getting to the Australian Open final and this time he won it beating American Emilio Nava, – cousin of ATP player Ernesto Escobedo – 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(12), dropping only one set during the whole tournament, and also after saving several match points.
Musetti said the experienced from his last final at the U.S Open helped him manage the pressure of fighting for his first Grand Slam title.
After winning his Australian Open title he finally became #1 in the juniors ranking and that sent the message to his team and him – it was time to start in the big leagues.
The Italian has smoothly begun his transition to the professional tour, playing ITF futures where he has competed in only five tournaments since the summer of 2018, where the furthest he has advance has been the round of 32.
He was awarded a wild-card to the Mouratoglou Open, an ATP challenger event that is played at the Academy Musetti has been training for the last couple of years. He claimed his first main draw match win at this level, becoming the first player born in 2002 to win an ATP Challenger match.
Musetti was also the youngest boy to ever be on the top 10 of the ITF Junior circuit. The young Italian has a one-handed backhand, which makes sense having in mind that his Idol is Roger Federer. He insists, however, that he needs to keep working on it because it is sometimes it turns into a defensive shot.
We now expect a lot from these young players because we are used to see amazing, mature players like Nadal or Pete Sampras winning big tournaments and even Grand slams in their teenage years. However, as fans, we must tread with caution, because there have been enough instances of #1 junior players being unable to successfully compete at the professional level.
Musetti has the game, the talent and the mental toughness needed to play the sport at the highest level, acknowledged by one of the most, if not the most, mentally strong player, Novak Djokovic. After his Australian Open win, Djokovic, who knew that Musetti had lost in the final at the US Open, congratulated him and said, “You have a good mental trainer.”
And we can also add the fact that he grew up playing on clay, a huge advantage having in mind that it takes some players years to adapt to this surface and the different changes this means when playing a match on clay.
With Musetti, there’s a good chance there could be at least one player with a one-handed backhand at the top of the rankings in the next few years.