Fixture: Lorenzo Musetti vs Dennis Novak
Tournament: Sardegna Open 2021
Round: First round (Round of 32)
Venue: Cagliari, Italy
Category: ATP 250
Surface: Red clay
Prize money: €408,800
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel
Lorenzo Musetti vs Dennis Novak preview
Teenage sensation Lorenzo Musetti will kick-start his 2021 Sardegna Open campaign against Austria's Dennis Novak.
Musetti recently announced himself to the world by making the semis at the Acapulco Open. The Italian youngster registered victories over Diego Schwartzman, Frances Tiafoe and Grigor Dimitrov in the Mexican city, before losing to eventual runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas.
At the subsequent Miami Masters, Musetti managed victories over Michael Mmoh and Benoit Paire. However, the youngster could not find a way past big-serving Croat Marin Cilic.
The relatively early exit at the Floridian event gave Lorenzo Musetti plenty of time to head back to his country and prepare for the upcoming clay swing. The World No. 94 has enjoyed a decent amount of success on clay this year already, with two final appearances on the Challenger tour (Antalya 1 and Biella 2).
Musetti would be looking to fully transition to the pro tour in 2021, and rise further up the ranking charts. And some deep runs in the coming month would serve the Italian well in that regard.
With a relatively straightforward draw at the Sardegna Open, Musetti will be relishing the chance to make a mark in front of his home fans. If he is able to overcome Dennis Novak, the 19-year-old will be up against top seed Dan Evans in the second round.
Novak, on his part, hasn't played on clay since his first round defeat at the 2020 French Open. More surprisingly, the Austrian hasn't won on clay since 2019, when he beat Jurij Rodionov in the first round at Kitzbuhel.
Dennis Novak's form in 2021 hasn't been great either. The World No. 100 has won just three of his eight matches, and is currently on a three-match losing streak.
Lorenzo Musetti vs Dennis Novak head-to-head
The head-to-head between Lorenzo Musetti and Dennis Novak is tied at 0-0. This will be their first encounter on tour.
Lorenzo Musetti vs Dennis Novak prediction
While Lorenzo Musetti's backhand is undoubtedly glorious to watch, his forehand has occasionally faltered under pressure. But with clay affording him more time, the teenager would look to regularly strike big shots off both wings.
Musetti will have to be wary of Novak's movement though. The Austrian has the ability to dig deep in rallies, making his opponents hit a few extra shots.
Musetti has enough firepower to hit through Novak, but to win the match he would have to play with patience - especially in the crosscourt exchanges.
Prediction: Lorenzo Musetti to win in three sets.