In the battle of the youngest and oldest players in the main draw in Rome, an 18-year-old Lorenzo Musetti defeated the 35-year-old Stan Wawrinka 6-0, 7-6 in the first round. Thus, a qualifier delivered the first ATP victory for the 2002 generation, repeating what Jannik Sinner did at Foro Italico a year ago against Steve Johnson for generation 2001.
Musetti finished the job against the 10th seed in an hour and 23 minutes, showing his rich talent and the abilities to chase much higher ranking positions from the current 249th. There was no crowd to support the youngster against an experienced rival, but he had momentum on his side following qualifying victories.
On the other hand, Wawrinka hasn't played since two Challengers in Prague in August, struggling to find the rhythm in the opener and falling short in set number two to propel the Italian over the top. Lorenzo faced only one break point in the entire clash, getting broken but keeping the scoreboard under control with four straight breaks on his tally.
Serving at 72%, the youngster had the upper hand in the opening set, delivering three breaks for a bagel. Wawrinka sprayed a forehand error in the first game for the worst start, finding himself 3-0 down when his backhand landed long in game three.
Delivering deep and effective shots from both wings, Musetti grabbed another break at 4-0 and closed the opener on own serve for a bagel. Stan had to chaise the result from the first game of the second set, dropping nine of the first ten games to find himself 6-0, 3-1 down.
The three-time Major champion raised his level from that moment, pulling the break back at 2-3 following a loose drop shot from Lorenzo and fending off two break chances in the next game to move 4-3 in front after a booming serve.
Lorenzo Musetti passed the qualifying round to beat Stan Wawrinka in straight sets.
The returners stood no chance in the remaining five games to reach the tie break, a must-winning one for Wawrinka. Stan sent a forehand long in the first point to give the youngster a mini-break, pulling it back for 1-1.
Lorenzo opened a 3-1 lead following another wild forehand from the Swiss, moving further in front with a well-constructed attack and a volley winner. Returning at 6-2, the Italian landed a forehand crosscourt winner to seal the deal and score the biggest triumph of his young career, the first on the ATP level for his generation.
"I have seen Stan playing on TV, and I know he is a tough player to beat. I'm going to enjoy the victory before I start thinking about my next match against Nishikori. The first set was almost perfect. In the second, he tried to play better and raise his level.
He was focused and determined to win the set, but I served well, mixing those and finding the right angles. I think the serve was the key that propelled me through," Lorenzo Musetti said.