On Tuesday night, Tsitsipas was the one trailing two-sets-to-love against a talented opponent with a one-handed backhand. But against 20-year-old Lorenzo Musetti, the No.4 seed exorcised any ghosts that might be lingering from last year’s final.
Tsitsipas and Musetti delighted fans over three hours and 36 minutes with an array of dazzling drop shots, backhand battles and gruelling rallies. But it was the No.4 seed who ultimately prevailed with a 5-7, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 victory, booking a second-round meeting with qualifier Zdenek Kolar.
Story of the match
It could have been a match plucked straight out of the Roland-Garros historical archives.
Tsitsipas and Musetti, two athletic, all-court players with stylish one-handed backhands, used every inch of Chatrier to slide, construct points and create sublime angles.
But the floodlights that lit up centre court on a chilly Parisian evening — not to mention the open roof overhead — grounded it firmly in the present, where the future of Italian tennis was looking to spring an upset on the Big Three’s heir in waiting.
Tsitsipas has been going from strength to strength this season since the tour hit the clay courts, defending his title in Monte-Carlo and reaching the Rome final a fortnight ago.
The 23-year-old carried all of that momentum into his opening match, and soon raced ahead to a daunting 4-1 lead against Musetti with points for another break of serve.