He stomped his racquet in frustration as if it was a pesky bug. At one point, he slammed something against his bench, drawing boos from the crowd. After two sets, he had won a paltry 26 percent of second-serve points and was broken seven times.

It was a gloomy day for Novak Djokovic during his round-of-16 match in Monte Carlo—and that was before the rainfall.

The wet interruption came at 1-1 in the third set, and when the world No. 1 took the first point upon resumption to hold, most viewers surely thought the stoppage would stop Djokovic’s bleeding, and forecast a victory.

Instead, it delayed the never-inevitable: a pre-quarterfinal loss by Djokovic, to the talented Lorenzo Musetti, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4.

“I’m struggling not to cry. It’s really an emotional win,” said Musetti. “I think it’s still a dream for me.”

Novak Djokovic finished his day with 23 unforced errors and was broken eight times.

Novak Djokovic finished his day with 23 unforced errors and was broken eight times.


Already with world-class command of his one-handed backhand and slice, the 21-year-old world No. 21 was pesky, too—particularly at 3-3 in the third. Leading Djokovic 0-15, Musetti withstood a barrage of heavy groundstrokes before tracking down a so-so volley from the Serb, and firing the reply for a winner.

On the next point, Musetti cracked a second-serve return for a stone-cold winner, giving him triple break point. Two points later, a Djokovic error—his 22nd of the match—gave Musetti a massive opening.

With two more holds, and on his fourth match point, Musetti ultimately took advantage of it, giving him the biggest win of his young career and a familiar foe in the quarterfinals: compatriot Jannik Sinner. That 21-year-old Italian is fresh off deep runs in Indian Wells and Miami, and he also saved a match point in his Thursday win over Hubert Hurkacz (3-6, 7-6 (6), 6-1).


“For sure, not easy conditions,” Musetti confirmed after a contest that featured 15 combined service breaks. But he managed them well. With an aggressive game that can work wonders in any environment, Musetti never allowed Djokovic into a comfort zone.

Like the rain delay, Musetti’s two match-point errors from 5-4, 40-15 seemed ominous for the underdog. And on his third chance to win, Musetti sprayed a backhand well wide. But Djokovic made the costlier errors, and the fourth time was a charm for the charming Italian.

As for Djokovic, questions surfaced about a possible injury, given the arm sleeve he wore. He would have none of it in post-match press.

“I cannot say nothing,” said the 22-time Grand Slam champion. “I’m okay. I’m fine. Congrats to him. We move on.”