Yesterday we looked at three of the top five upsets at ATP Tour events this season, with Diego Schwartzman’s impressive victory against Rafael Nadal in Rome ranking third.
Today, we complete the list with stunning upsets pulled off by two promising #NextGenATP talents. ATPTour.com looks at how Carlos Alcaraz and Lorenzo Musetti made their biggest splash on the ATP Tour this year.
2) Carlos Alcaraz def. Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Rio Open presented by Claro, Rio de Janeiro, R1, 17 February 2020 (Match Stats)
When Albert Ramos-Vinolas earned his first FedEx ATP Ranking point, Carlos Alcaraz was barely a year old. But in the first round of this year’s Rio Open presented by Claro, it was the latter who sprung one of the biggest upsets of 2020.
Alcaraz, who was 16, walked onto the court late that evening at an hour one could argue was past his bedtime. But the teenager showed why he is one of the world’s most promising #NextGenATP talents against a tough opponent.
In 2017, Ramos-Vinolas reached his maiden ATP Masters 1000 final at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. His heavy-topspin baseline game makes for a physical match against any opponent, especially on clay. It had to have been a massive ask for a 16-year-old, right?
World No. 406 Alcaraz, making his ATP Tour debut, looked plenty comfortable grinding through tough rallies against the veteran. The #NextGenATP player hit heavy backhands to set up his forehand, tactically manoeuvring his way through points without giving second thought to the physicality of the challenge early on.
Alcaraz took the opener, but it appeared Ramos-Vinolas’ experience and physicality — especially with his lefty forehand — began to wear on his countryman as he forced a decider, in which he took a 3-0 lead and held three break points to make it 4-0. But the teen remained calm and summoned the tennis that helped him take the lead in the first place, playing aggressively to win five straight games.
Despite letting slip two match points at 5-3 on Ramos-Vinolas’ serve as his nerves showed in poor movement, Alcaraz played courageously in the tie-break to triumph 7-6(2), 4-6, 7-6(2) at 3:00am after three hours and 37 minutes.
“I will remember Rio forever,” Alcaraz said. “I am very happy to win my first ATP Tour match. This has been the longest and most intense match I’ve played so far. There were quite difficult conditions, but if you have the right attitude, the conditions don’t matter. You can achieve anything.”
Alcaraz went on to win three ATP Challenger Tour titles in 2020, climbing into the Top 150 of the FedEx ATP Rankings.
1) Lorenzo Musetti def. Stan Wawrinka, Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome, R1, 15 September 2020 (Match Stats)
One first-round clash at this year’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia produced the birth of a #NextGenATP star.
World No. 249 Lorenzo Musetti, who went through qualifying, had only previously played one tour-level match ahead of his battle against former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka. The Swiss had already earned 523 tour-level victories in his illustrious career. When Musetti was born, Wawrinka had already earned FedEx ATP Ranking points.
But fans watching from around the world got a glimpse of the future. Musetti played confident, aggressive tennis, using a big forehand and a picturesque one-handed backhand — which former World No. 1 Jim Courier called “incredible” on Tennis Channel’s broadcast — to not just hang in with the three-time Grand Slam champion, but control play.
You’d understand if Musetti was flustered by the occasion, competing at his home ATP Masters 1000 event. But it was Wawrinka who struggled to find the court in the first set-and-a-half, losing the first eight games as he battled to find his rhythm.
As Wawrinka began firing in the second set, significantly cutting his unforced errors, Musetti kept up his level. The teen showed no fear of the 16-time tour-level titlist, instead choosing to hold his ground on the baseline. Musetti refused to relinquish control of points on the Roman clay, and he even showed his feel on occasion by throwing in drop shots in key moments to wrong-foot the Swiss.
The home favourite was simply too good on the evening, becoming the first player born in 2002 to win an ATP Tour match with a 6-0, 7-6(2) triumph against Wawrinka.
“I think it’s a dream that came true,” Musetti said. “I’m still not believing what I did tonight, so I just accept that.”
Musetti, who broke Wawrinka’s serve four times, was cool as a cucumber when speaking to the media after his breakthrough moment. He wasn’t overcome by the occasion.
“I just enjoyed the match,” Musetti, who’d also upset former World No. 4 Kei Nishikori in the next round, said. “I had a lot of fun tonight and hope to keep the process and trust the process of my career and try to play better every point, every day.”
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