02:00 PM GMT April 06, 2021
"It was an incredible match. From the beginning I felt so comfortable on the court and hitting the ball. I had really good feelings," Musetti said. "Today was not easy, because there was a lot of wind and it was my first match on clay after the hard season."
Last month, Musetti reached his second ATP Tour semi-final as a qualifier at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC, where he recorded his first victory over a Top 10 opponent, Diego Schwartzman. He lost to No. 5-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Acapulco semi-finals. But the teen rebounded by reaching the third round at the Miami Open presented by Itau before switching to clay.
"I didn't feel so much difference because my strategy, my game doesn't change between hard court and clay court. My goals are to be the leader of the game and stay not so far from the baseline, and try to be aggressive," Musetti said. "It's not the same thing, but almost."
The 19-year-old won the first 10 games of the match against Novak and completed his 11th victory in 16 matches (including ATP Challengers) this year with a forehand lob. The World No. 90 won 18 of 25 first-service points in windy conditions in Cagliari and now plays top-seeded Briton Daniel Evans.
"I'm really proud of myself and the attitude I had on court, playing each point the best. This is what I'm looking forward to do in the future."
Earlier in the day, fifth-seeded German Jan-Lennard Struff saved five match points to overcome Joao Sousa of Portugal 1-6, 6-1, 7-5 in two hours and seven minutes. Struff, who saved three match points at 2-5 down in the deciding set and at 4-5, 15/40, now faces British qualifier Liam Broady.
Marco Cecchinato recorded just his second victory of the season by beating fellow Italian Thomas Fabbiano 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and 21 minutes. Cecchinato, who reached his fourth ATP Tour final in October 2020 in Sardinia (l. to Djere), will now challenge Yannick Hanfmann of Germany.
In his first match since Montpellier in February, former World No. 6 Gilles Simon rallied past home favourite Stefano Travaglia 1-6, 6-3, 6-4. Other players who advanced were Andrej Martin and qualifier Jozef Kovalik.