Not injured, Musetti retired against Djokovic when he was “not able to win a point”

Lorenzo Musetti retired in the fifth set of his Roland-Garros fourth-round match against Novak Djokovic on Monday. A surprising end led to a surprising revelation in Musetti’s press conference.

Lorenzo Musetti, Roland-Garros 2021

Lorenzo Musetti was leading world No 1 Novak Djokovic two sets to love on Monday, one set away from the quarter-finals of the French Open.

But Musetti could not get to the finish line — literally.

Not only did the 19-year-old fail to close out Djokovic and pull off the massive upset, but he also fell short of completing the match at all. Musetti called it quits after three hours and 27 minutes with Djokovic having stormed back to take a 6-7(7), 6-7(2), 6-1, 6-0, 4-0 lead.

The Italian took a break before the fifth set for some apparent back treatment, but he said afterward that he did not have any specific injury. Instead he gave the following explanation for his retirement.

There was no chance that I could win a point, so I decided to retire.

Lorenzo Musetti

“No, no, no, it’s not an injury. It’s, well, just a little bit of cramps and a little bit of low back pain. I was not anymore able to win a point, and so was not really…grateful also for the crowd that was there, so I decided to retire. There was no chance that I could win a point, so I decided to retire because I think it was the best thing to do it.”

Struggling physically for whatever reason (he also played a five-setter two days earlier against Marco Cecchinato), Musetti could not put up any fight in the third, fourth, and fifth sets. Offering little — or even nothing — to the crowd, the world No 7 ended the match prematurely.

Count former world No 1 Boris Becker among those who were unimpressed with Musetti’s decision.

“When you face the biggest in the scene, you have to be ready physically and mentally,” Becker said. “The young guns don’t understand that. It’s not just playing tennis; it’s about character and personality. I haven’t seen a very bad injury. That’s why I don’t think it’s good to stop. You should have respect for the other player and say, ‘He beat me today – then it’s 6-0.’ It’s a test of maturity.”

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