Novak Djokovic made the most of his vast experience to overcome a two-set deficit before beating Italian teen Lorenzo Musetti on Monday at Roland Garros. He reached the quarterfinal with a 6-7, 6-7, 6-1, 6-0, 4-0 victory after Musetti retired due to cramps and lower back pain. After the match, the World No. 1 admitted to being nervous at the start of the match against the 19-year-old more than when he went two sets down. “I actually felt, I would say, more nervous when I was starting the match than when I was two sets down,” said Djokovic.
The Serbian has also praised the Italian teenager for the way he has approached the “important moments”. “To be honest, I even liked the fact that I lost first couple of sets, because I just played under [a] certain kind of tension and wasn’t able to go through my shots… But credit to him for playing well in [the] important moments,” he added.
“After I lost the second set and went out to change and came back on the court, I just felt different,” said Djokovic. “I was a different player. I had [a] better feeling in my shots. I just had more confidence going through the ball. I decreased the amount of errors [and] I started playing the way I was supposed to play at the beginning.
“Then towards the end of the third, beginning of the fourth, I saw that he was struggling physically [and] obviously that gave me even more motivation to try to apply more pressure on him and kind of finish him off.”
Djokovic heaped praise on his Monte-Carlo training partner and believes he will become a “top player” if he continues on the same path. “Musetti definitely has all the qualities in his tennis, in his game on clay particularly, but also [on] other surfaces to be a top player,” he elaborated.
“I wish him all the best. He’s a nice guy… We’ve trained quite a bit [together], and now we played for the first time. I think if he keeps going in this way [that] he’s definitely on the right path to becoming a top player one day.”
The 34-year-old Serb, who will next play ninth seed Matteo Berrettini in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, opened up on how he approaches five setters. “I like to play young guys in best-of-five, because I feel [that] even if they are leading a set or two-sets-to-love, as was the case today, I still like my chances,” said Djokovic.
“Because I feel like I’m physically fit and I know how to wear my opponent down in the best-of-five match. I’ve won most of the five-setters I have played in this tournament and in my career, so I think that experience helps.”