Almost a year to the day that Lorenzo Musetti scored the biggest win of his career over Novak Djokovic, the world No. 1 got his revenge on the young Italian, 7-5, 6-3 to reach the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters quarterfinals.

Musetti, then 21, roared back from a set down to stun an out-of-sorts Djokovic in 2023, but the 24-time Grand Slam champion was in far better form on Thursday, rallying from a break down to advance in just about two hours on Court Rainier III.

Djokovic was telegraphing that this year’s Monte Carlo was already feeling different to the last, where he exited in the third round. After sitting out the Miami Open following a shock BNP Paribas Open loss to Luca Nardi, Djokovic showed no rust in a 6-1, 6-2 demolition of Roman Safiullin on Tuesday, and declared “I’m not scared of anything or anybody” ahead of his rematch with Musetti.


“He obviously is, you know, one of the most talented players on clay, a beautiful one-handed backhand,” Djokovic said of Musetti in his press conference before the match. “He's very athletic. He can do a lot of great things. He's one of the most promising young players not only from Italy but generally for the world.

“I like the way I played my first match comparing to the first match last year. I feel…more ready, so whoever is across the net, I'm hoping I can deliver my best game.”

That best game was somewhat slow to arrive as Musetti opened the match with a break of serve and threatened to take a 4-1 double-break lead on Monte Carlo’s top seed.

Djokovic held on and charged when Musetti least expected it, digging out of a 40-0 hole two games later after playfully engaging the pro-Musetti crowd, leveling the set and ultimately reeling off seven of the next eight games to put himself up a set and a break.

On the brink of getting bundled out of the match, Musetti, who earned a career-high ranking of No. 15 last June, got on the board with a break. But Djokovic kept pressing, returning the favor with a break of his own and put down a stronger serve game to move within two games of victory.

Musetti, who once led Djokovic by two sets in their first meeting at 2021 Roland Garros, put on a brave last stand, saving break points to avoid a double-break deficit and pull off some audacious shotmaking to get the set back on serve.

Undaunted, Djokovic regained his lead, blasting a forehand return winner to serve for the match. With three match points in hand, Djokovic only needed one with Musetti erred long off the forehand.

Up next for the world No. 1 is No. 11 seed Alex de Minaur, who kicked off action on Thursday with a 6-3, 6-4 win over fellow Aussie Alexei Popyrin. Popyrin was coming off a big win over defending champion Andrey Rublev, but De Minaur has been one of the most consistent players of 2024, one of just four players to earn more than 20 main-draw match wins this season. Tied 1-1 in their head-to-head, De Minaur won their most recent match at United Cup, though Djokovic appeared to be dealing with a right wrist injury.