Wimbledon 2024: Musetti beats Fritz, Rybakina and Djokovic into semis – as it happened

Estimated read time 7 min read

Novak Djokovic (2) vs Lorenzo Musetti (25)Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals?

He knows better than me the surface and stadium for sure. He’s a legend. He made something really unthinkable for anyone. I’ve had the chance to play against him many times, we know each other well. I expect a big, big fight and I think it’s going to be one of the toughest challenges on tour. But I’m an ambitious guy and I like to be challenged.

Wimbledon semi-finals!Wimbledon now has fifth-set tie-breaks. This match will be finished by then, that’s for sure, but it’s by no means clear who the victor will be. Musetti holds with a rarity for him – back-to-back aces – and Fritz should hold to 30 but goes for it just a bit too much. Deuce. Advantage Fritz. Deuce. Advantage Musetti, courtesy of a fabulous return. Musetti flashes a one-hander down the line, can’t quite see Fritz off in the rally, but then pings another down the line a few shots later and the Italian has the break!

The tall Fritz does so well to get down low on the grass and pull off a backhand volley winner for 15-0. With the wind in his sails, he takes the next three points with the minimum of fuss and we’re going to a decider! That hold at 2-2 – when he saved a couple of break points – could prove to be crucial in this match. The American will be the favourite from here.

Fourth set: Musetti 3-6, 7-6, 6-2, 3-5 Fritz* (*denotes next server)

A strong start from Fritz moves him to 0-30. Musetti has the net gods on his side on the third point, his shot hits the tape and flies over, Fritz gets to it but then has to attempt a tricky backhand smash and he can’t. 15-30. Fritz rifles a backhand return down the line to give himself two break points! Musetti serves himself out of trouble on the first, but is powerless to save the second. Fritz breaks and will serve to take this to a fifth set!

Fourth set: Musetti* 3-6, 7-6, 6-2, 3-4 Fritz (*denotes next server)

So how will the 22-year-old Musetti cope (yes he’s only 22, even though you’d think he was 52 given his retro style of play), potentially four games from the finish line? Well, very well actually. 15-0, 30-0, 40-0, game. Back to you Taylor. Who responds with a love hold of his own, sending down a couple of aces in the process.

Fourth set: Musetti* 3-6, 7-6, 6-2, 2-3 Fritz (*denotes next server)

Danger for Fritz at 30-40, break point. Musetti has the chance to pass … but instead hits into the sky – and Fritz buries the ball! Deuce. Musetti has Fritz on a piece of string on the next point, dragging him deep left then forward right with the drop shot, and Fritz is flummoxed. Advantage Musetti, a second break point. Fritz saves it with some brave hitting. And then gets to advantage by stretching every sinew to pull off a backhand volley! Game Fritz. Big, big hold.

Fourth set: Musetti 3-6, 7-6, 6-2, 2-2 Fritz* (*denotes next server)

A superb volley from Fritz, with Musetti well beyond the baseline, makes it 0-15. Fritz could do with coming forward more often. Musetti responds with a vicious drop shot and it’s 15-all. Then 30-all. And Fritz has the chance to break when he’s rewarded for a strong return. 30-40 – he really needs this. Musetti drop-shots again … Fritz is wise to it … but Musetti pulls off a volleyed lob from near the baseline and emerges victorious! A sliding serve from Musetti makes it his advantage. And the Italian holds. I think the umpire should have handed Musetti the game after that volleyed lob. It was outrageous. Even Camilla is getting excited.

Fourth set: Musetti* 3-6, 7-6, 6-2, 1-2 Fritz (*denotes next server)

Fritz is finding his service groove. 15-0, 30-0, 40-0, 40-15, game. Having won only 25% of his first-serve points in the third set – quite possibly a career low for him – he’s up to 86% for this set so far. Fritz wants to keep the points short and sharp here – Musetti’s winning far more of the longer rallies – and then try to put some pressure on the Italian’s serve.

Fourth set: Musetti 3-6, 7-6, 6-2, 1-1 Fritz* (*denotes next server)

Yes, the logic says Fritz should be winning this match. He’ll be kicking himself if this gets away from him. The world No 12 does, at least, hold to 15 at the start of the fourth set. Let’s see if he can build on that. But Musetti provides a swift response with an even more emphatic hold, to love.

Fritz, remember, has played only Nadal and Djokovic in grand slam quarter-finals before. He’s not dealt well with being the favourite here. But now Musetti, having taken the lead, has something to lose. Will he blink? I certainly don’t think this match is over yet. Meanwhile P.K. Adithya emails with some tactical thoughts. “I caught the tail end of the second set during my lunch break, and it seemed like Musetti had to play nearly perfect tennis to overcome his disadvantages and win it. He can rarely get a cross-court top-spin backhand to cross his opponent’s bodyline, which should be one of the bread-and-butter shots for any player. If Musetti’s backhand doesn’t go across Fritz, it can be easily redirected with a forehand to get him on the run. Fritz seemed to be taking advantage of this, yet lost the second set due to brilliant execution by Musetti. It didn’t seem sustainable, and yet here we are.”

Fritz is hitting with more authority here – perhaps he feels he has nothing to lose – but Musetti still magics up a volleyed pass from the back of the court! Wow. Bravo Lorenzo. That was the longest rally at 23 shots. 15-all. Another long exchange follows, and Musetti slices and dices Fritz into submission. 30-15 – and a netted return makes it 40-15. Two set points. Fritz sends a loose forehand long! Musetti, the underdog, leads by two sets to one! Not a sentence I thought I’d type after the first set.

Third set: Musetti* 3-6, 7-6, 5-2 Fritz (*denotes next server)

Fritz is up to 42 unforced errors as he’s pegged back from 30-15 to 30-all. And he’s then called for a foot fault. It’s all going wrong. But Musetti then hits into the stands – a willing ballboy goes to retrieve the ball – and it’s 40-30. Musetti’s next play is more elegant and it’s deuce. Fritz digs out a low volley for his advantage. Musetti then chips – and charges forward – but he needn’t have bothered because his approach lands long. Fritz holds but is still struggling to breathe in this set.

Third set: Musetti 3-6, 7-6, 5-1 Fritz* (*denotes next server)

Musetti, such a throwback, just isn’t giving Fritz any rhythm here, and is cutting Fritz into a thousand pieces with all this slicing, which bounces so low on the grass. The American’s response has been to try to hit bigger and bully Musetti, but that means he’s making too many errors. Musetti holds to 15 – and Fritz’s face right now suggests he’s half-beaten and really doesn’t know what to do next.

Musetti breaks: Musetti* 3-6, 7-6, 4-1 Fritz (*denotes next server)

Ouch. At 0-30, Fritz flaps at a smash, and gets it totally wrong. So here are three break points for Musetti. Musetti slices a couple of backhands, before showing more aggression on the forehand wing, and even though Musetti’s shot has pace, Fritz should do better than clobber his forehand well wide! Fritz is falling apart here and Musetti has the double break!

Source: theguardian.com

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