Lorenzo Musetti Dominates Taylor Fritz on Grass

Lorenzo Musetti Dominates Taylor Fritz on Grass

Just one more obstacle stands between Novak Djokovic and a 10th Wimbledon final and don’t be surprised if there are more fireworks.

A free pass to a semi-final which had seemed so utterly improbable when Djokovic tore the meniscus in his right knee at Roland Garros just 38 days ago means he will play Italian Lorenzo Musetti, the 25th seed in possession of a grass-court touch with the potential to win over any Wimbledon crowd.

If Djokovic felt the audience here was against him when he played Holger Rune in the fourth round, he should try this magisterial young touch-player for size.

The mere mention of Djokovic’s name at the end triggered a few playful boos when Musetti was asked on this court on Wednesday night how he felt about playing him in what will be his first Grand Slam semi-final.

‘It’s a big, big fight and I think it’s one of the toughest challenges on tour but I’m an ambitious guy,’ he replied.

Lorenzo Musetti booked his first Grand Slam semi-final after a heroic five-set performance

The Italian's grass-court game saw him go the distance against the American No 1 Taylor Fritz

The Italian’s grass-court game saw him go the distance against the American No 1 Taylor Fritz

Djokovic was at least freed from the prospect of a quarter-final which might have severely tested him when Alex de Minaur — indefatigable hitter and, as the boyfriend of British No 1 Katie Boulter, a half-Brit — withdrew from their match on Wednesday with a hip injury. 

It means we must wait until Friday to see if the seven-time champion’s eccentric claim that chants for Rune on Centre Court were boos trigger any kind of a response.

Musetti has grounds for hope. It was the 22-year-old who took Djokovic to five sets in the epic on Roland Garros’s Philippe Chatrier Court on June 2 which finished at 3am.

Fritz took Musetti the distance but collapsed in the decider as Musetti pulled off a well-crafted grass game

Fritz took Musetti the distance but collapsed in the decider as Musetti pulled off a well-crafted grass game

These Championships are crying out for the final between Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz which is still on. But there will be a partisan reaction for Musetti if he can reproduce the game which saw him overcome 26-year-old Taylor Fritz in five sets, having lost the first.

The Italian, playing his first Grand Slam quarter-final, conjured memories of his compatriot Adriano Panatta’s beautiful touch, driving Fritz to distraction with a sublime game of chips and slices. He dictated the pace of the game, dragging the 13th seed from the comfort of the baseline and making it impossible for Fritz to get underneath the ball and crash the whipped forehands which are his weapon.

It was a sobering experience for the world No 12, who was incapable of changing the shape of his game, while Musetti provided more evidence he is in the form of his life.

Musetti last faced off with semi-final opponent Novak Djokovic in Paris at 2024's French Open

Musetti last faced off with semi-final opponent Novak Djokovic in Paris at 2024’s French Open

Djokovic will remember those early hours in Paris, where the Italian’s wonderful single-handed backhand and imaginative shot-making dragged the Serb out of position and left him gasping for a break. That backhand was in evidence as Musetti took an early advantage in this match’s decider which he surprisingly dominated.

‘It’s hard to speak,’ Musetti said. ‘I don’t yet realise what I’ve done. I’d like to thank the big Italian contingent that was here.’

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