Italian Wildcards Give Genova Audience Something To Cheer

Giulio Zeppieri advances to the second round at Genova (photo: Brian Allen)

GENOVA, September 3, 2019 (by Brian Allen)

Lorenzo Musetti’s shotmaking, and his willingness to quickly forget the occasional misfire, were at the core of his 6-3, 6-4 first-round victory over Filip Horansky in the feature match Monday night at the AON Open Challenger.

One of three victorious Italian wildcards in the main draw, Musetti hit crowd-rousing groundstrokes and unexpected drop shots to open up a 4-1 lead in the first set and serve for the match at 5-2 in the second.

“Then I went a little bit nervous on the serve,” the 17-year-old Musetti admitted, dropping that service game. But he righted the ship the second time around. “I was really focused on the 5-4 [service game]. It’s a great win.”

Because Musetti lives one hour from Genoa and plays for a local team, the crowd treated him as one of their own. He enjoyed hitting flashy, low-percentage shots, while the Slovakian Horansky played steadier tennis but ultimately failed to draw more errors off the Italian’s side.

“In Australia, I made one lob-tweener that was the second[-most popular] point at the Open,” just ahead of one of Rafael Nadal’s shots, he added. “I can be a shotmaker.” Musetti will play no. 4 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany in the second round.

Giulio Zeppieri, another Italian wildcard, defeated recent U.S. Open qualifier Sumit Nagal of India 6-1, 7-5 in their first-round match. After cruising in the first set behind powerful groundstrokes, Zeppieri let slip break points at 4-all in the second and wasted his first two match points while serving at 6-5. An error by Nagal sent the 17-year-old Zeppieri into the second round, where he will play no. 12 seed fellow Italian Lorenzo Giustino.

The final Italian wildcard, 22-year-old Andrea Pellegrino, moved through when Rogerio Dutra Silva of Brazil retired while down a set and at 3-4 in the second. In the second round, Pellegrino will play another Brazilian, no. 8 seed Thiago Monteiro.

Filippo Baldi also benefited from the Italian support in his 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 win over Germany’s Rudolf Molleker. Baldi was broken while serving for the first set at 5-4 and could have crumbled at the beginning of the second.

“It is a tough [recent] period for me because I’m not playing that many matches,” said Baldi. “That’s why I lost the first set, because I was a little bit stressed when I served for the [set], a little bit of tension. I’m playing good, but not winning a lot of matches.”

Molleker’s inability to consistently land his powerful shots, combined with a possible left-leg injury and the pro-Baldi crowd, made the outcome seem inevitable from the beginning of the third set.

“I tried to relax and, yes, I broke my racquet,” Baldi confessed, smiling. “Then I played a solid match.” Baldi will play no. 5 seed Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain in the second round.

Monday Results

Alejandro Tabilo (CHL) def. Jan Choinski (GBR) 6-0, 6-2

(W) Giulio Zeppieri (ITA) def. Sumit Nagal (IND) 6-1, 7-5

Facundo Bagnis (ARG) def. Tommy Robredo (ESP) 6-2, 7-6(4)

Carlos Berlocq (ARG) def. Joao Domingues (POR) 4-6, 6-1, 6-2

Viktor Galovic (CRO) def. Alessandro Giannessi (ITA) 6-0, 2-0 ret.

Sebastian Ofner (AUT) def. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) 6-2, 6-2

Bernabe Zapata Miralles (ESP) def. Joao Menezes (BRA) 6-0, 6-4

(W) Andrea Pellegrino (ITA) def. Rogerio Dutra Silva (BRA) 6-2, 4-3 ret.

Gianluca Mager (ITA) def. (Alt) Julian Lenz (GER) 7-6, 6-4

Mohamed Safwat (EGY) def. Facundo Arguello (ARG) 4-6, 6-2, 6-0

Filippo Baldi (ITA) def. Rudolf Molleker (GER) 5-7, 6-2, 6-1

Federico Coria (ARG) def. Elliot Benchetrit (FRA) 6-1, 7-5

(W) Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) def. Filip Horansky (SVK) 6-3, 6-4

Federico Gaio (ITA) def. Pedro Cachin (ARG) 7-5, 7-6(4)


(1) Alex Molcan (SVK) def. (W) Julian Ocleppo (ITA) 6-4, 7-6(6)

(W) Andrea Vavassori (ITA) def. (2) Gonzalo Escobar (ECU) 6-3, 7-5