The lights went out and so did many seeds Thursday at the Rome Masters. Upsets were the norm as seeds went 2-4 plus Kei Nishikori was upset by 18-year-old Italian qualifier Lorenzo Musetti 6-3, 6-4.
A round after stunning Stan Wawrinka, Musetti knocked out another former Top 5.
“It was an incredible match,” said the 249th-ranked Musetti. “I think I played really smart, as he was playing close to the baseline. It was different to Wawrinka, they are great champions. I am really happy right now. I felt really good on my forehand from the beginning. I could play more offensively on return, than against Stan.
“I always used to be warrior, a fighter, but I had a lot of ups and downs during the past year,” he added. “This month, I tried to be calm and stay positive on court, and I think it’s my best improvement in the past few weeks. Here in Rome, I’m feeling really well. Even today, I think I won mentally, because I played well on the tough points. I think the key was this, the important points.”
Seeds fared no better than Nishikori. No. 5 Gael Monfils was eliminated by qualifier Dominik Koepfer. Ugo Humbert took care of 7th-seeded and home favorite Fabio Fognini in straights.
Hubert Hurkacz ousted No. 9 Andrey Rublev in three and Dusan Lajovic got a date with Rafael Nadal on Friday after upended No. 13 seed Milos Raonic 6-2 in the third.
Seeds Denis Shapovalov and Diego Schwartzman were both straight-set winners.
On Friday, Djokovic joins Nadal back on the court. The Serb will test improving countryman Filip Krajinovic. Grigor Dimitrov faces another Italian teen Jannik Sinner and Hurkacz hooks up with Schwartzman.
“I haven’t played against him since the first time we played in Belgrade, actually, when he was 18, and I retired that match after a set,” Djokovic said of Krajinovic.
“So I look forward to that, also. I’m very glad that Filip is doing well with the new coach, Janko Tipsarevic. Filip is someone that I am very close to for many years. I was trying to kind of mentor him in the last seven, eight years, and I’m just very, very pleased that he’s doing well.”
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