Breakdown: Djokovic survives test from Musetti

PARIS, FRANCE – JUNE 3: Novak Djokovic of Serbia during day 7 of Roland-Garros 2021, French Open, a Grand Slam tennis tournament at Roland Garros stadium on June 5, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by John Berry/Getty Images)

Novak Djokovic came into his round of 16 match against Italian teenager Lorenzo Musetti having not dropped a set in the first three rounds of the tournament. That would change on this day as the young Italian came out taking and making tough shots, seemingly unbothered that he was playing the top ranked player in the world, and winner of 18 Major titles, including one here at Roland Garros back in 2016. Musetti took the first two sets in tiebreaks before quickly fading in the final three sets, winning just one game over that span before retiring in the fifth set down 0-4.

1st Set

After both men held in their opening service games, Novak was able to break the Italian’s serve at one all. Musetti was able to get the break back in the 5th game of the set. The youngster showed plenty of variety using his backhand slice, and changing the pace at will, carrying him into the tiebreak. Musetti came into the match with an 8-0 record in tiebreaks, and he would keep that perfect streak alive in this match, taking the first set with a massive inside out forehand.

2nd Set

Early in the second set, Djokovic had a bit of a lead on the Musetti serve in the third game 0-30, before Lorenzo used some great ball striking to win four straight points to hold serve. The two combatants traded breaks in the 4th and 5th games of the set, and Novak saved additional break points in the 6th and 8th games. This led to the second tiebreak of the match where Musetti dominated, extracting four unforced errors from Djokovic, eventually winning 7-2 in the breaker, and improving to 10-0 in tiebreaks in his young career.

PARIS, FRANCE – MAY 31: Lorenzo Musetti of Italy plays a backhand in their mens singles first round match against David Goffin of Belgium on day two of the 2021 French Open at Roland Garros on May 31, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

3rd set

Following the second set, Novak took a bathroom break to change clothes and refocus. It worked for the Serbian as he was absolutely dominant from that point on in the match. He displayed vintage Djokovic lockdown defense and really pushed Musetti around the court masterfully. Nearly simultaneously, Musetti started to hit errors off both wings, and left balls short in the court that Novak was more than happy to jump on. Djokovic would win the 3rd set 6-1.

4th & 5th Sets

Djokovic started the 4th set by not losing a single point until the 5th game of the set. In fact, at one point between the 3rd and 4th sets, the world number one won 19 straight points. Musetti was only able to muster four total points in the 4th set and Novak was in the zone. The 5th set saw much of the same from Novak, as he did not drop a game in the final two sets before the young Italian retired from the match at 0-4 in the 5th set. Musetti was trying to become one of only seven players ever to reach the quarterfinals in his inaugural Grand Slam appearance, but it was Djokovic who will move on to the quarterfinals and improved to 17-0 in fourth round matches at the French Open. Next for Novak is another Italian in hard-hitting Matteo Berrettini, who received a walk over from the Swiss maestro Roger Federer, who is still recovering from knee surgery, and wants to be fit for the grass court season.