Tennis-Italian Musetti defies odds to lift maiden title in Hamburg

(Reuters) – The emotions of lifting his maiden Tour-level trophy will be hard to forget for 20-year-old Italian Lorenzo Musetti, who overcame disrupted preparations and survived a rollercoaster ride at the ATP 500 event in Hamburg.

Musetti had lost his last six matches on the tour before the Hamburg European Open and arrived at the German port city without his bag of rackets.

Although he managed to sort out his playing gear in time for the tournament, he then suffered a bout of food poisoning.

“I arrived here… with all the strikes, one of my luggage (bags) got lost. (It was) the one with the rackets, so I was a little bit worried about how I would play,” Musetti told the ATP Tour after his victory on Sunday.

“The night before the start of the matches, I threw up all night. I had food poisoning, so I felt a little bit sick. I didn’t expect to go as far as I went, so I’m happy that my luck turned around at this tournament.”

He was on the brink of his seventh straight loss in the opening round against Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic but showed great resilience to save two match points before registering his first Tour-level victory since May.

Musetti was playing his first championship final on Sunday while his opponent — Spain’s 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz — came into the contest having won all five Tour-level finals he had reached.

The Italian wasted five championship points in the second set but found the mental strength to down Alcaraz, who on Monday became the youngest player to break into the world’s top five since Rafa Nadal in 2005, 6-4 6-7(6) 6-4 in a thriller.

“For me it’s a dream. Obviously, I always dreamed about winning a title and I didn’t have any chances before,” said Musetti, who rose to a career-high ranking of 31. “It’s the first time, so I have no words to describe how it feels.

“The emotions I had today, I will keep it in my heart and my head for a long time.”

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai, editing by Ed Osmond)

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