Italian Lorenzo Musetti is carrying the hopes of a nation this week as he competes on home soil at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

The 19-year-old is currently No. 58 in the FedEx ATP Rankings and is the youngest of nine Italians in the Top 100 after enjoying a standout 2021 season. Musetti, who reached tour-level semi-finals in Acapulco and Lyon this year, edged Hugo Gaston on Wednesday to earn his first victory at the Allianz Cloud.

As he looks to qualify for the semi-finals, Musetti spoke to about the 21-and-under event and his love for Italy.

You May Also Like:

Cerundolo: ‘I’m On The Right Path’

What do you love about Italy?
For me it is home. It reminds me of all the memories I have there with my family and friends. My hometown is in Italy. I like to represent Italy, so I [was] really looking forward to playing in Milan.

Turin will be tough, but it is a dream to achieve in the next few years. Playing in Milan, it is the first time for me playing in this event and I was really looking forward to it.

What do you think of when you think of the city of Milan?
Milan is the city centre in Europe for fashion. It is a business, it is really technologically [advanced], investing a lot of money in future things and big events. I think Rome and Milan are the biggest cities in Italy. Rome is more historic and Milan is more so the new city, the future. We are the Next Gen and the future.

Had you watched the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals tournament before this year?
In 2019, Jannik [Sinner] was winning and I was playing in qualifying for the wild card. I could see Jannik on the TV. I think it was one of his best tournaments, the surface was really adapting to his game. There were a few players I met like Frances Tiafoe and Alex de Minaur who are now in the Top 50 and Top 30.

How important is it for the young Italians to see someone like you here?
I think it is really important. Italian tennis is living its best moment. We have almost 10 players in the Top 100. We have Matteo Berrettini, who is playing fantastically. Lorenzo Sonego has achieved a lot of things. Jannik won [the title in] Washington and won in Australia before. I can put myself in because I think I did a great job in the first half of the season.

Then we have Gianluca Mager, who is playing really well. Then we have the comeback of Marco Cecchinato, who came back from the Top 200, which is really good. With Fabio [Fognini], it is Fabio. We deserve what we have achieved. It is a friendship group.

With the Next Gen guys, is it nice that you are all competing but get along well too?
It is nice. We motivate each other. We don’t have bad relationships off the court. It is a nice thing to understand the life of other players, so I think it is really nice to live all together now I am on the Tour, I can share these moments with them.

In Milan, everyone has been excited to see you. How much do you enjoy performing and making the fans happy?
One side of me can grow under pressure and I think there is a lot of pressure there. I want to play well here, I want to have good results. I couldn’t wait to play in front of a crowd that will cheer for me and supports me.

Here in Milan the fans are allowed to move freely during the match in the stands, creating a bit more buzz. How nice has that been for you and how have you found the atmosphere?
I think it’s a good rule because when we are playing, we don’t notice too much that the people are moving and, I mean, it’s not disturbing for us. I think I have the crowd by my side and I hope on Thursday it’s going to be a full crowd and I want the participation of the crowd like [I had on] Wednesday. It was really fun, I was really happy to play in front of my Italian crowd. So I will try my best Thursday and I will enjoy for sure the show.

Source link