The volley podcast #3: Musetti, the most stylish kid
In the third episode of The Volley, Tennis Majors’ new podcast, host Jenny Drummond talks with Chris Oddo. They go deep into the player profile of Lorenzo Musetti, the most stylish player among the NextNextGen
Welcome to the third episode of The Volley, a new podcast presented by Tennis Majors, covering all the major issues from around the tennis world. In episode three, host Jenny Drummond talks to Tennis Majors contributor Chris Oddo about rising star Lorenzo Musetti.
Like some other hardcore followers of tennis, Oddo was aware of Musetti even before the Italian reached the professional level. He captured the Australian Open boys’ singles title in 2019 and climbed to No 1 in the ITF junior rankings in the summer of that year.
But it was on the main tour one year later that Musetti made his true breakthrough and announced himself to the broader tennis world. He made a run to the third round of the Rome Masters as a qualifier, upsetting Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori along the way. After winning a Challenger tournament the following week, Musetti went on to reach the semi-finals at an ATP 250 in Sardinia.
“That was probably the first indication that not only was he talented,” Oddo said of the Rome result, “but that his game translated to the ATP level – and not only to the ATP level, but against top talents like Wawrinka and Nishikori.”
Isn’t [his game] just kind of pleasing to watch? He’s the complete package.Chris Oddo
It’s a game that doesn’t just produce results. It’s one that entertains all along the way. With a gorgeous one-handed backhand, a vast array of shots in his arsenal, and fluid movement around the court, Musetti’s style of play is easy on the eyes.
“Isn’t it really just kind of pleasing to watch? I think if you start anywhere with Musetti, you start with his drop-shot. The way he can feather that shot – the touch that he has with it – it’s quite unique the way that he’s really on the borderline of overusing it, and yet he finds a way. Actually a lot of times he’s out of position, in difficult situations, behind the baseline, and he still pulls it off. It’s a very pure and very precise shot that he has. He’s got great touch with it. I think that’s the number one thing if you’re looking at Musetti’s game.
“But really he’s the complete package. He’s got a brilliant one-handed backhand that he can take cross-court, hit great angles with. He also has a lot of big power on that side. His forehand is pretty destructive. His serve is not so bad And he’s only 19. He has so much room to grow.”
Musetti takes two sets off the world No 1
A great experience in terms of Musetti’s growth came in the fourth round of the ongoing French Open. Although the match ended in fifth-set retirement, the 19-year-old took the first two sets off world No 1 Novak Djokovic – both in tiebreakers.
“That was remarkable,” Oddo commented. “It didn’t end up going in his favour, but just to see him out there with Djokovic bodes well for his future.
“It just tells you that he’s kind of cut out for this. It shows that he’s capable of handling the best player in the world, one of the best clay-courters of all time, on the biggest show court in the world. Just to show up and start a match like that so authoritatively was remarkable.”
What’s especially remarkable are those aforementioned tiebreakers. Musetti is an unbelievable 10-0 in tiebreakers in his career on the main tour and he is 15-0 in his last 15 breakers when you also include ATP qualifying matches.
“It’s another remarkable statistic about Musetti and sort of his knack for playing big players and doing well on the big stages,” Oddo assured. “That’s just fantastic. I have to talk to some stat gurus on the ATP side to see if that’s ever been done before.”