Musetti Retirement Sends Djere To Sardinia Final

WASHINGTON, October 18, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

For one set, everything looked promising for 18-year-old rising Italian star Lorenzo Musetti. He broke his opponent in the first game of the match and quickly was a set up against Serbia’s Laslo Djere in their semifinal match at the ATP 250 Forte Village Sardegna Open Saturday afternoon.

However, as the match wore on, Djere took control – racing to a 4-0 lead in the second set – and the 143rd-ranked wild card Musetti’s right elbow weakened. Serving at 1-2 in the third set, Musetti began to feel pain in his right elbow that forced him to actually pull out of his service motion. Finally, a point after receiving medical treatment on his arm, Musetti was forced to retire.

The 74th-ranked Djere was declared the winner, 2-6, 6-2, 4-1, following Musetti’s retirement after one hour and 39 minutes of play on Forte Village Court in Santa Margherita di Pula, Italy. Djere, who broke Musetti’s serve four times, outpointed his opponent 69-57.

“I knew that he was playing really well, had a lot of confidence and had some great results in the past few weeks,”said Djere, quoted by the ATP Tour website. “But I didn’t expect the high level that he played in the first set. It surprised me a bit and I didn’t have the answer.

“I managed to stay focused and fought back in the second set, which I am really happy about. My level was higher in the second set, [as was] my intensity. I changed tactics a little bit and I was more focused on my serve.”

Musetti, playing in his first tour-level semifinal in just his third ATP Tour main draw, is the youngest semifinalist of the season and in the past year since Jannik Sinner at age 18 a year ago in Antwerp. He was attempting to become the youngest Italian in the Open Era to reach an ATP Tour final. He is projected to jump to a career-high of No. 123 in next week’s FedEx ATP Rankings. At age 18 years and 7 months, he would be the youngest in the Top 125.

“There was one month of tournaments at ATP level with a lot of Top 100 players,” said Musetti, quoted by the ATP website. “I think I did an amazing job and now I will take a rest and see what is happening with the elbow. … I am going to rest a bit because I am a little tired after playing a lot of matches in a row.”

By winning, Djere, 25, advanced to his second ATP Tour final after winning at Rio last year.

In the second semifinal, 103rd-ranked wild card Marco Cecchinato of Italy needed just 58 minutes to dispose of 166th-ranked lucky loser Danilo Petrovic of Serbia, 6-1, 6-0. Cecchinato broke his undermatched opponent five times and outpointed him 58-31 to advance to Sunday’s final.

The doubles title was won by No. 3 seeds Marcus Daniell of New Zealand and Philipp Oswald from Austria. They beat the No. 1 seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, both from Colombia, 6-3, 6-4, in a one hour and 13-minutes final.

Svitolina top seed in J&T Banka Ostrava Open

World No. 5 Elina Svitolina, who last month won the Internationaux de Strasbourg and reached the quarterfinals of the French Open, is the top seed at the WTA Premier J&T Banka Ostrava Open in Ostrava, Czech Republic, which begins Monday.

The main draw for the indoor hardcourt tournament was revealed Saturday afternoon. The No. 1 seed Svitolina will play the winner between Kristyna Pliskova and Maria Sakkari in her first match. Second seed is World No. 6 Karolina Pliskova, who will face either No. 31 Donna Vekic or a qualifier in her first match. Other seeds include: No. 3 Aryna Sabalenka, No. 4 Victoria Azarenka, No. 5 Petra Martic, No. 6 Elena Rybakina, No. 7 Elise Mertens and No. 8 Anett Kontaveit.

Others notables in the 28-player main draw include: Lexington champion Jennifer Brady, ranked 26th; No. 30 Amanda Anisimova, No. 37 Barbora Strycova, No. 40 Magda Linette and No. 44 Jelena Ostapenko. Among those competing in qualifying is No. 55 Coco Gauff, who received a wild card and advanced to the final round with a 6-1, 6-0 win over No. 168 Jana Cepelova. No. 1 seed Veronika Kudermetova, ranked 47th, also won 7-6 (5), 6-3 over Stefanie Voegele.

Although the Czech Republic recently announced a stop to sporting competition due to a spike in Covid-19 rates, it allowed some exemptions for professional events. The WTA event in Ostrava announced on Oct. 14 it had received an exemption to proceed and did not sell tickets to the event.

Gasquet to face de Minaur in UTS3 final 

Richard Gasquet reached the finals of the Ultimate Tennis Showdown 3 with a pair of wins over Feliciano Lopez and Taylor Fritz on Saturday, taking place this weekend in Antwerp, Belgium, site of next week’s ATP 250 European Open. The UTS made its debut during the summer at the Mouratoglou Academy near Nice, France.

Gasquet beat Lopez 4-0 and defeated Fritz in sudden death to advance from Group B. He will oppose Group A winner Alex de Minaur, who won both of his group matches Friday without losing a quarter.

Busy times on and off court for Kevin Anderson

Earlier this week, Kevin Anderson was elected President of the ATP Players Council. Back home in South Africa, he’s busy overseeing the BNP Paribas RCS Rising Stars program.

Now it can be told …

In an interview with Kevin Mitchell, who covers tennis for The Guadian in London, Andy Murray revealed that the only player who he was intimidated by – and he didn’t know why – was Marat Safin. “I played him when I was young at Cincinnati, in 2005. Sometimes I’d speak to him and he’d be nice, and sometimes – I don’t know whether he didn’t like me or not – I found it a bit tricky.” Read more of Mitchell’s interview …

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