Tennis-Musetti stops Fritz to make maiden Grand Slam semi-final at Wimbledon

  • Tennis
  • Thursday, 11 Jul 2024

Tennis - Wimbledon - All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain - July 10, 2024 Italy's Lorenzo Musetti celebrates after winning his quarter final match against Taylor Fritz of the U.S. REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

LONDON (Reuters) -Lorenzo Musetti saved some of his best tennis for the end as the Italian moved into his first Grand Slam semi-final by outlasting big-hitting American 13th seed Taylor Fritz 3-6 7-6(5) 6-2 3-6 6-1 at Wimbledon on Wednesday.

The 25th-seeded Italian's bid to join compatriot and world number one Jannik Sinner as a major champion this year faces a massive hurdle, however, as he faces seven-times All England Club champion Novak Djokovic in the last four.

"I don't realise yet what I've done. First of all I want to thank all the Italian crowd who are here to support us," Musetti said on court.

"We were joking about trying to play to the big stage at Wimbledon. I've never tried Court One and Centre Court. I played a fantastic match, because Taylor was in great shape.

"I'm really happy to be in my first semi-final here."

Musetti has beaten Djokovic once in six clashes and dragged the Serb to five sets in their most recent one at Roland Garros.

The 22-year-old showed similar battling qualities against Fritz after going behind early in the match.

After holding in a tight first game, Fritz seized the early break for 3-1 when Musetti netted a backhand, and the American consolidated the advantage in the next game with a powerful forehand winner to set the tone for the first set.

Eastbourne champion Fritz continued to crank up his forehand and serve in glorious sunshine, occasionally drawing gasps from Court One fans with rockets from the baseline, and grabbed the lead in the match with an ace.

"I kept my best tennis for the end," Musetti said.

"It wasn't the best start, because Taylor was really leading the game with his serve. The second set I had a big reaction and I immediately changed my attitude.

"That made the big difference."

After the pair exchanged breaks at the start of the second set, Queen's Club runner-up Musetti pounced again to go 5-3 up, and although Fritz erased the deficit the Italian raised his level to edge the tiebreak.

Musetti mixed up his game with chips and slices and forced Fritz into uncharacteristic errors, easing through the third set on the back of two breaks, but he handed the American a way back into the match after dropping the next set.

As shadows covered the manicured turf to make life tough for the players, Musetti quickly built a 5-0 lead in the decider and finished it off on serve when Fritz hit a shot long after falling awkwardly at the net in the previous point.

Musetti's reward is a meeting with 24-times Grand Slam champion Djokovic, who went through to a record-equalling 13th semi-final at Wimbledon after Australian ninth seed Alex De Minaur pulled out of their match with a hip injury.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar; Editing by Alison Williams)

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