Wimbledon 2024: Lorenzo Musetti sets up Novak Djokovic semi-final after beating Taylor Fritz

Wimbledon 2024: Lorenzo Musetti sets up Novak Djokovic semi-final after beating Taylor Fritz

Lorenzo Musetti set up a Wimbledon semi-final against Novak Djokovic after a stunning display to beat Taylor Fritz in five sets on Wednesday.

While Djokovic had the easiest passage into the last four, spending the day at Wimbledon practising with his two young children after Alex de Minaur’s injury withdrawal, Musetti was made to toil in a battle between two form players on grass.

Fritz had won at Eastbourne in the build-up to Wimbledon while Musetti was a runner-up on grass.

Both former junior world No1s, that was arguably their only similarity, Fritz relying on his big serve and Musetti a throwback to a Wimbledon of yesteryear with his flair and one-handed backhand in particular.

There were points Musetti looked set for his Wimbledon exit only for him to fight back to be the unexpected Italian in the last four after Jannik Sinner’s sickly demise against Daniil Medvedev the previous evening.

Fritz had been the favourite having played superbly to knock out Alexander Zverev in the preceding round and bidding for a first career grand slam semi-final. His previous opponents in the last eight had been only Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

Perhaps sensing the opportunity, he was near perfect on his serve in particular and the set was his in the blink of an eye.

The match proved Wimbledon’s hot ticket with the Djokovic match called off, the likes of the Queen, Formula 1 driver Pierre Gasly, actress Keira Knightley and former England footballer Jordan Henderson all in the stands watching

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Fritz looked to be cruising when he broke Musetti in the first game of the second set after a delay in play when St John’s Ambulance had to treat a faint spectator in the stands. It had echoes of the pair’s previous meeting at Wimbledon when Fritz dismantled Musetti in the first round two years previously.

But he broke back the next game and there were further back-to-back breaks late in the set to force a tiebreak, which Musetti won 7-5.

Musetti had been too passive before the latter parts of second set and seemed to free himself in set three dominating every aspect and shifting momentum of the match.

In a rollercoaster encounter, Fritz who had spent most of his time gesticulating to his box in that set suddenly turned the aggressor.

The American was rewarded with two break points when 4-3 up in the fourth and broke when he hit a forehand long. At that point, his opponent had been scrambling to stay in the set.

All sensibility said that Fritz would then run away with it but, on his first service game, he was broken courtesy of a stunning one-handed backhand down the line. It was a shot that seemed to knock the fight out of him.

There was an alarming end to the match when Fritz fell nastily on the penultimate point and clutched his knee.

Meanwhile, Musetti now has the unenviable challenge of trying to find a way how to beat Djokovic on Centre.

He said: “He’s a legend everywhere but especially here in Wimbledon. I expect a big, big fight. I think it’s one of the toughest challenges on tour but I’m an ambitious guy and I like to be challenged. I’ll try my best.”