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Musetti continues Acapulco run by outlasting Tiafoe

Lorenzo Musetti battles past Frances Tiafoe in a third-set tiebreaker on Wednesday night in Acapulco. Musetti is joined in the quarter-finals of this 500 event by Grigor Dimitrov and Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Lorenzo Musetti, Acapulco, 2021 AI / REUTERS / PANORAMIC

Both Lorenzo Musetti and Frances Tiafoe were coming off three-set thrillers in round one of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel. It was only fitting that they played another one when they went head-to-head on Wednesday night.

It was Musetti who survived another grueling encounter, following up his defeat Diego Schwartzman with a 2-6, 6-3, 7-6(1) victory over Tiafoe. The 19-year-old broke serve five times while triumphing in two hours and 44 minutes.

Thus continues a remarkable run of form for Musetti, who was one of the breakout stars of 2020. The Italian made a run to the third round of the Rome Masters as a qualifier, reached the semi-finals of a 250-point tournament in Sardinia, and captured a Challenger title in Forli. Musetti’s 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 upset of Schwartzman on Tuesday marked his first-ever victory over a top-10 opponent.

Already up to No 120 in the world after starting last year at 360th, Musetti is expected to climb to No 108 next week. He will surge well inside the top 100 if he wins his Acapulco quarter-final match against Grigor Dimitrov.
Lorenzo Musetti, 2021

Joy of victory, agony of defeat

Before Musetti can start thinking about Dimitrov, he will want to savor Wednesday’s victory. After all, it wasn’t easy. After splitting the first two sets with Tiafoe — who beat Brandon Nakashima in a third-set tiebreaker on Tuesday — the Monte-Carlo quickly fell behind 3-0 in the third. He managed to break back at 1-3 before eventually finding himself serving to stay in the match at 4-5, which he did with ease thanks to a love hold. Musetti then broke for 6-5 only to fail when he tried to serve things out in the next game.

Thus a tiebreaker had to separate the two competitors, and it was Musetti who put it in no doubt. The teenager raced to a 6-0 advantage before capitalizing on his second match point at 6-1. It ended with a classic joy of victory and agony of defeat situation, with Musetti sprawled on his back in relief as Tiafoe destroyed his racket on the other side of the court.

“I have no words, really,” Musetti said. “Today I think was even tougher than yesterday. He played (the) first set incredible; I was still in the bed. He started so [well]. After (that) I played with heart, with everything that I could. I’m really proud of myself, with what I did.

“It was really tough; he’s unbelievable. We are close friends, as you could see at the handshake; big hug with him. It was an incredible night, an incredible match. I have a lot of adrenaline; I’m not going to sleep.”

Auger-Aliassime advances past Korda

In another battle of rising stars, Felix Auger-Aliassime endured no such drama. The 20-year-old Canadian defeated fellow 20-year-old Sebastian Korda 6-3, 6-4, cruising past the American in one hour and 38 minutes.

Auger-Aliassime awaits either Stefanos Tsitsipas or John Isner in the quarter-finals.

Dimitrov, meanwhile, advanced with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Miomir Kecmanovic. The Bulgarian finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal last year in Acapulco. Also finding the winners’ circle on Wednesday was Dominik Koepfer, who upset No 14 seed Milos Raonic 6-4, 6-2.

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