Musetti Makes His Marseille Debut A Stylish And Successful One

Lorenzo Musetti (photo: Open 13 Provence)

MARSEILLE/WASHINGTON, February 5, 2024 (by Michael Dickens)

The main draw of the 32nd edition of the ATP 250 indoor Open 13 Provence began Monday in Marseille, France with the tournament debut of Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti, the lone Italian in this year’s 28-player field, who last fall announced that he was expecting a child with his partner, Veronica Confalonieri.

The 21-year-old from Carrara with the stylish one-fisted backhand, who is currently ranked No. 27 but has risen as high as No. 15, came to the Bouches du Rhône seeking his first title of the season while also looking to build upon his quarterfinal finish in Adelaide last month. When Musetti last appeared, in January’s Australian Open, he came out on the losing end of a disappointing five-set loss to Luca Van Assche of France.

More recently, Musetti was feted along with Jannik Sinner the rest of Italy’s 2023 Davis Cup champion team in an audience with Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

Back on the tennis court, against 99th-ranked alternate Maximilian Marterer of Germany, the sixth-seeded Musetti won his fourth match of the season – all of them coming in the opening round – thanks to converting five of 14 break-point chances. His 6-4, 6-2 victory advanced him to the second round against either No. 49 Andy Murray of Great Britain or 66th-ranked Tomas Machac of the Czech Republic, who play Tuesday.

“The first set was really tough, we broke each other a lot of times,” Musetti said in his on-court interview. “I think we were playing a really high level. He was serving really big. For me, I was not serving so well, so many first serves. I had to play each point. It was not easy with him, especially since he’s a lefty with a one-handed backhand. It’s always a problem [for me]. Today, I was happy to get my first win in Marseille.”

Although the hard-working Musetti won only 61 percent of his service points, he captured more than half (52 percent) of his return points, pressuring Marterer throughout the one-hour, 47-minute match on Central Court inside the Palais de Sports. He proved more and more impressive as the match wore on. Musetti garnered nine of the last 11 games of the first-round match. Meanwhile, Marterer now has dropped five straight tour-level matches dating back to his semifinal run at Antwerp last fall.

“My goal is to try to come back to the Top 20, where I was much of the time last season,” said Musetti, a former junior No. 1. “I want to come back to the Top 20 before becoming a father.”

Around the Palais de Sports

Top-seeded qualifier Hugo Gaston of France, Maxime Cressy of the United States, David Goffin of Belgium and France’s Hugo Grenier, advanced to the main draw after winning two rounds of qualifying that began Sunday and concluded Monday. Gaston needed three sets to defeat fellow Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3. Grenier also went the distance to beat No. 2 Giulio Zeppieri of Italy, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. Both Cressy and Goffin won in straight sets.

Defending champion and top seed Hubert Hurkacz of Poland has a first-round bye and will open defense of his title against No. 56 Alexander Shevchenko of Kazakhstan, who was a semifinalist last week in Montpellier. Monday night, Shevchenko defeated 126th-ranked wild card Benjamin Bonzi of France, last year’s finalist, 7-6 (4), 6-4, in one hour and 25 minutes.

Other top seeds include No. 2 Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, ranked 13th; No. 3 Karen Khachanov of Russia, ranked 18th; and No. 4 Ugo Humbert of France, ranked 21st.

Monday’s Open 13 Provence results

Tuesday’s Open 13 Provence Order of play

By the numbers

Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain, ranked No. 102, is making his seventh appearance at the tournament and first since 2018. He improved to 1-3 against French players in the main draw of Open 13 Provence, following his 6-3, 7-5 win over No. 131 Richard Gasquet in an hour and 51 minutes Monday evening.

“Quotable …”

“It’s not easy to play on this court. The surface is very slow, you need to work the points. It was a tough match [against Richard]. It’s not easy to beat him.”

Roberto Bautista Agut, during his on-court interview following his 6-3, 7-5 win over Richard Gasquet. The victory advanced the Spaniard against No. 3 seed Karen Khachanov.