Some players wear their hearts on their sleeves, while others sport sleeves filled with sponsor logos.
Lorenzo Musetti channels his Big 3 influences every time he steps on court.
The 19-year-old Italian phenom told Marca Rafael Nadal is his original tennis idol before he switched allegiance to Roger Federer.
The Grand Slam kings have influenced Musetti in different ways: he aims to compete with Nadal’s emotional intensity and strike his one-handed backhand in Federer’s smoothly creative style.
“At first my idol was Nadal, perhaps because of being left-handed and because as a child you like to see someone with their gesturality on the court, who says ‘come on’… I have great respect for Rafa,” Musetti told Marca in a wide-ranging interview. “Then I switched to Federer because I identify with his one-handed backhand.
“It’s the GOAT for me for what he’s achieved and for his elegant way of playing. It’s a role model both on and off the track.”
The Italian wild card rolled through 12 straight points closing a 6-4, 6-3 win over 39-year-old Feliciano Lopez in a Barcelona battle of the ages today. Musetti set up an intriguing second-round clash vs. 10th-seeded Felix Auger-Aliassime, playing his second tournament working with coach Toni Nadal in his corner.
Italian tennis is celebrating a renaissane with 10 Italians ranked in the ATP Top 100. Former US Open semifinalist Matteo Berrettini along with talented 19-year-olds Musetti and Miami Open finalist Jannik Sinner can make the host nation of the 2021 ATP Finals a powerhouse for years to come. Musetti says Sinner is “a mirror” for him and believes they’re both pushing each other to new levels.
“Sinner is a mirror I look at myself in,” Musetti said. “When I do a good result, so does he. I think we’re stimulated by death. But we have no rivalry.
“We are close, without being friends because we do not coincide in the junior stage because he never played in juniors. We talk regularly. We played only once in Rome and it was a fantastic match. I hope I can re-measure myself to him.”
Photo credit: Miami Open