Wimbledon 2024: Lorenzo Musetti reaches his first Grand Slam semifinal, will face Novak Djokovic

The 25th-seeded Musetti, a 22-year-old from Italy, had never been past the third round at the All England Club — or the fourth round at any major tournament — until now.

Published : Jul 10, 2024 23:32 IST , LONDON - 4 MINS READ

Lorenzo Musetti celebrates after winning his quarterfinal match against Taylor Fritz.
Lorenzo Musetti celebrates after winning his quarterfinal match against Taylor Fritz. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Lorenzo Musetti celebrates after winning his quarterfinal match against Taylor Fritz. | Photo Credit: REUTERS

Lorenzo Musetti threw his head back and spread his arms wide to celebrate reaching his first Grand Slam semifinal at Wimbledon, then covered his face with both hands.

His 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Taylor Fritz on Wednesday was a big deal, to be sure. After all, the 25th-seeded Musetti, a 22-year-old from Italy, never had made it past the third round at the All England Club — or past the fourth round at any major tournament — until this fortnight.

Now, though, comes a far tougher test: taking on Novak Djokovic.

“He probably knows, better than me, the surface and the stadium, for sure,” Musetti said with a chuckle, aware he’ll be making his Centre Court debut on Friday. “Jokes apart, he’s a legend everywhere, but especially here in Wimbledon.”

This will be Djokovic’s record-tying 13th semifinal at Wimbledon alone — equaling Roger Federer — and 49th Slam semifinal overall, extending a mark he already held. As Musetti pursues his first major championship, Djokovic seeks a 25th, including what would be an eighth at the All England Club.

Djokovic’s smooth trip through this year’s bracket was made even easier when the man he was supposed to play in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, Alex de Minaur, pulled out with a hip injury hours before their match was scheduled to begin.

Musetti was forced to work for his spot in the final four: His three-and-a-half-hour victory over the 13th-seeded Fritz was the 37th five-setter at the All England Club this year, the most at any Grand Slam tournament.

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Musetti acknowledged he didn’t get off to an ideal start, in part because of nerves. But an early break in the second set helped alter the course of the evening.

“Immediately, I changed my mind. I changed my attitude,” he said. “And that probably made the difference.”

Musetti’s son, Ludovico, was born in March, and he said on Wednesday that helped him rededicate himself to his sport and strive to no longer “throw away matches.”

“Instead of me teaching him, he’s teaching me. … Having a child makes you reflect a lot,” Musetti said. “I feel more mature on the court, more mature off the court, and more mature as a player, as a father, as a person.”

Playing at a sun-swathed No. 1 Court against Fritz, an American who is one of the sport’s biggest servers but fell to 0-4 in major quarterfinals, Musetti managed to accumulate 13 break points and convert six.

With Queen Camilla, the wife of King Charles III, in the stands and joining fans in doing the wave, Musetti did far more to vary his strokes — a drop shot here, a lob there, plenty of slices — than Fritz did.

“I just felt like it took a lot to finish the point,” Fritz said.

Djokovic had knee surgery less than a month before the start of play at the All England Club. But despite limitations on his movement, the 37-year-old Djokovic has dropped only two sets so far — facing a qualifier in the first round, a wild-card entrant in the second and only one seeded player, No. 15 Holger Rune.

Instead of going up against No. 9 de Minaur on Wednesday, Djokovic will get three full days off before meeting Musetti. The other semifinal Friday is defending champion Carlos Alcaraz against Daniil Medvedev.

Djokovic and Musetti have played each other six times previously. Djokovic has won five of those, including a five-setter at this year’s French Open that concluded after 3 a.m. It was in Djokovic’s following match in Paris that he tore the meniscus in his right knee.

“We know each other pretty well. They’ve always been a huge fight so I expect a big, big fight. It’s going to be one of the toughest challenges on tour,” Musetti said, “but I am an ambitious guy and I like to be challenged.”

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