Monday, July 15, 2024

Wimbledon: Lorenzo Musetti fights back to beat Taylor Fritz and set up semi-final vs Novak Djokovic

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Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti booked a Wimbledon semi-final place against Novak Djokovic after he fought back from a set down to beat the USA’s Taylor Fritz on Court No 1.

The 22-year-old 25th seed, who was appearing in his maiden Grand Slam quarter-final, battled back to win 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 3-6 6-1 to progress to his first semi-final.

Fritz, who knocked out fourth seed Alexander Zverev in the last round (albeit the German was carrying a knee injury), fell short in his bid to make a maiden Wimbledon semi-final.

Musetti will next face second seed Djokovic in Friday’s semi-finals, after the Serb made it through to the final four without playing a shot following Alex de Minaur’s unfortunate injury withdrawal due to a hip complaint.

Having been pushed hard by Musetti in the opening service game of the match, Fritz managed to hold and then later proceeded to earn the first break of the contest himself, executing a beautiful lob shot, combined with errors from the Italian, to move 3-1 up.

Fritz consolidated that break with a hold of serve, and then had another break point at 30-40 as Musetti backed up backhand errors. In any case, Musetti forced deuce and held.

In the end, one break was all the big-serving and rather formulaic Fritz required to bank the first set, holding to love with an ace.

One break was all the USA’s Fritz required to race to a first set win in just 36 minutes

Into the second set, Fritz broke Musetti in the first game – a lengthy one which saw five deuces – but the Italian showed spirit to impressively break back immediately on the American’s serve for 1-1.

Musetti then held his next service game to move 2-1 ahead, and the next time either player came under pressure was when Fritz forced deuce in the fifth game of the set. Musetti came through to win it after a number of superb drop shots.

At 4-3 to Musetti, Fritz fell 0-30 down after hitting out and then finding the net, and though strong serving soon got him back to 30-30, Musetti then produced a fabulous lob for break point – taking it when Fritz fired long.

Serving for the set, Musetti then fell 0-30 down himself, however, after a costly double-fault. A superb Fritz crosscourt backhand strike earned the American three break points, and he took the first by reaching a drop shot and then volleying home.

Musetti recovered from a poor first-set display to improve drastically

With Fritz serving to remain in the set, Musetti battled back from 30-0 to 30-40 and set point, but a 122mph Fritz serve brought things to deuce. Once there, Fritz made sure the set continued with victory to take things to 5-5.

Both players held to prompt a second-set tie-break, with Fritz missing a huge chance for an opening mini-break by failing to put a volley away by the net, allowing Musetti to execute a marvellous backhand crosscourt finish.

Instead, Musetti gained the first point against serve with a ripping backhand shot down the line which caught the paint. A Fritz ace followed, but Musetti won both points on serve to move 4-1 in front, placing big pressure on Fritz.

Two rocket serves saw the American keep his nerve to narrow the gap to 4-3, but Musetti showed guts too to win both of his point on serve too, generating three set points in doing so. Fritz saved the first two on serve, but Musetti wrapped up the set when a 100mph second serve landed on the line.

Musetti produced a tight tie-break victory to clinch the second set

The Italian’s one-handed backhand came to the fore to create two break points in the opening game of the third set, clinching the first with a crosscourt backhand strike. Back on serve, Musetti fell 15-30 down but kicked on to hold, and in the fifth game of the set, he broke Fritz again after a highly erratic service game from the latter – losing it to love – to go 4-1 up.

Musetti held to 15 to move 5-1 ahead, and then produced a magnificent crosscourt forehand shot to bring things to deuce in the next Fritz service game. The American held from there, but it was nothing more than a stay of execution as a thrilling Musetti forehand volley brought Court 1 to its feet after a long rally to set him on the way to a hold of serve and two-sets-to-one lead.

Fritz was totally outplayed in the third set and broken twice en route to a 6-2 loss

Fritz began the fourth set with a confidence-boosting hold from 0-15 behind, and then forced a break point in the fourth game at 30-40. A matter of inches saw Musetti land an impeccable lob taken on the volley onto the back of the baseline to take things to deuce, and he held from there via two rapid serves to keep the set level.

In a demonstration of how quickly things can turn, Musetti then forced himself into a position of having three break points as Fritz errors crept in, but the American did brilliantly to save all three for deuce. A gorgeous Musetti backhand slice saw him bring up a fourth break point in the game, but Fritz saved that one too with a piledriver of a forehand strike. Another ace eventually completed a huge hold.

Taylor Fritz in quarter-final action against Lorenzo Musetti at Wimbledon
Fritz saved four break points before going on to win the fourth set, taking things to a fifth-set decider

Both players next held to love, before Musetti fell 15-40 behind at the critical juncture that was Fritz leading 4-3. The American took the second break point on offer and did not look back from there, serving the set out to love to take things to a fifth-set decider.

Musetti forced Fritz to deuce and then earned a break point in the second game of the fifth set, clinching it via a fantastic forehand winner. The Italian held to love to move 3-0 in front, and then, playing with huge confidence, broke Fritz again in the next game after a backhand slice on the run.

A service hold to 15 moved Musetti one step closer at 5-0, and the next time he was serving, the Italian ended the biggest match of his career to date after 3 hours 27 minutes following a 121mph serve.

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