Novak Djokovic overcomes 'fear' of Italian players by beating Lorenzo Musetti

Djokovic is now into the quarterfinals of the Monte-Carlo Masters.
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Sometimes reporters come up with the silliest questions. Maybe this is not their intent as many times the question asked makes them look worse than whoever is answering. This was the case this week with a reporter asking Novak Djokovic during the Monte-Carlo Masters about whether the top-ranked player on the ATP was "scared" of playing Italian players.

Djokovic has lost to a couple of Italians recently. He has fallen to Jannik Sinner three times since November, and Djokovic unexpectedly lost to Luca Nardi at Indian Wells. Still, asking the 24-time Grand Slam winner if he is suddenly afraid of Italian players would have been like asking Michael Jordan if he was afraid of the Sacramento Kings during his time with the Chicago Bulls; he would not have been.

To the Serb's credit, he actually answered the question. He was likely taken aback by the ridiculousness of the words. Was he afraid of Italian players? Of course, not. To be fair, however, Djokovic's opponent in round three of the Monte-Carlo Masters on Thursday was Italian Lorenzo Musetti who defeated Djokovic at the event last year.

Novak Djokovic defeats Lorenzo Musetti at the Monte-Carlo Masters

Djokovic said in response to the question about fearing Italian players, "I'm not scared of anything and anybody, but I really hope that I can get the chance to play (Musetti) again, get the matchup, another matchup here."

In the third round at Monte-Carlo, Djokovic did get his chance to exact revenge on Musetti. The match certainly was not as easy as the 7-5 6-3 victory might imply, however. Djokovic even got down a break in the first set before storming back. Both players had issues holding serve in the second set, though as the Serb is arguably the best returner in the history of the sport, any time a match gets to be a battle of returns, he will have the advantage.

One slightly scary bit of the match was after Djokovic had lost serve to lead only 4-3 and while he was sitting in between games, his right hand began to shake quite a bit. This might not be a long-term issue, of course, but it was unsual. Whatever was going on did not stop him from winning the final two games to take the match, though.

Maybe Djokovic also felt a bit more motivated after being asked if he was afraid of playing Italian players. He showed no fear on Thursday against Musetti. Djokovic will next play Alex de Minaur on Friday in one quarterfinal. De Minaur defeated Djokovic earlier in 2024 at the United Cup, but then, de Minaur is not Italian and is instead Australian.

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