Musetti Continues To Chase His Dream On Wimbledon Grass

Lorenzo Musetti (photo: Wimbledon video)

WIMBLEDON/WASHINGTON, July 8, 2024 (by Michael Dickens)

While Lorenzo Musetti has played in the shadows of his fellow Italian, World No. 1 Jannik Sinner, the 22-year-old from Carrara has quickly risen through the ranks of a very talented generation of players from Italy to become No. 2 among men.

Monday on No. 2 Court, the 25th seed Musetti reached his first major quarterfinal at the Wimbledon Championships by ending the exciting run of 58th-ranked French lucky loser Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2, in two hours and three minutes.

Mpetshi Perricard had started the fortnight as a lucky loser out of qualifying and was a win away from becoming the first lucky loser to reach the quarterfinals of a major.

Upon winning match point from the 6-foot-8 Frenchman, Musetti fell to the ground in pure elation of what he had just accomplished: reaching a major quarterfinal and joining Sinner in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, the first time two Italian men have reached the final eight together at SW19. Then, Musetti tried to express in words what it all meant.

“It is tough for me to get emotional but today I think I will,” Musetti said in his on-court interview. “I have been dreaming about this moment since I was a kid. I always had a really beautiful family who always supported me in chasing my dream.”

Mpetshi Perricard, who was celebrating his 21st birthday on Monday, came into the fourth-round match with Musetti high on confidence. Through his first three matches, he had fired a tournament-leading 105 aces in beating Sebastian Korda, Yoshihito Nishioka and Emil Ruusuvuori. He added 10 more against Musetti, but it wouldn’t be enough to pull off another win.

That’s because Musetti won 79 percent of his first-serve points, hit 23 winners to just eight unforced errors, broke Mpetshi Perricard’s serve five times and outpointed him 112-84. Mpetshi Perricard was overcome by 42 unforced errors as Musetti proved to be the steadier player.

Before this season, Musetti was just 6-7 in tour-level matches on grass. However, he’s turned his fortunes around this summer by garnering 11 wins in three tournaments. After reaching the semifinals in Stuttgart, he finished runner-up at Queen’s Club. Now, he’s earned a berth in the Wimbledon quarterfinals, joining Sinner.

“I have to thank first of all Simone,” Musetti said, saluting his coach Simone Tartarini. “Without him nothing of this could be possible. And I want to thank my family, my girlfriend Veronica — she’s up there.”

Musetti points to her up in the players’ box, then becomes choked up with happy emotions.

Down 0-2, Fritz finds his way to beat Zverev in five sets

Next, Musetti will play No. 13 seed Taylor Fritz of the United States. The 26-year-old American won his eighth straight match on grass going back to winning a pre-Wimbledon tuneup at Eastbourne, after rallying from two sets down to beat No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev of Germany, 4-6, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (3), 6-3, in three hours and 29 minutes on Centre Court with the roof closed.

“It was amazing to do that on Centre Court from two sets down,” a happy but relieved Fritz said during his on-court interview. “I thought it would really suck to be playing this well and to lose in three straight. I had the belief. I thought I was playing really good tennis… and that it was just a couple of points here and there. I thought I could take it one set at a time and turn it around.”

After falling two sets down, there was little that Fritz did wrong in the final three sets. Now, he’s into his second Wimbledon quarterfinal in three years. With friend and fellow American, No. 12 seed Tommy Paul, already into the last eight, it marks the first time since 2000 that there will be multiple men from the United States in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. Back then, it was Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Jan-Michael Gambill.

Fritz struck 15 aces and hit 67 winners overall, made only 23 unforced errors and won 69 percent of his second-serve points. Zverev countered with 19 aces and 55 winners to 33 unforced errors. Fritz, who broke Zverev twice, outpointed his opponent 157-141.

Looking ahead to facing Musetti, Fritz said: “It’s going to be a tough match. He’s had a really good grass-court season. It’s my second time in the quarterfinals, but this time it feels like I’ve earned it a lot more, so I’m really excited for the chance.”

De Minaur reaches Wimbledon last eight for first time, Djokovic next

On No. 1 Court, No. 9 seed Alex de Minaur of Australia reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the first time in his sixth appearance and equalled his best Grand Slam result with a 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory over No. 34 Arthur Fils of France in two hours and 54 minutes.

De Minaur, 25, who crafted a forehand volley winner to secure match point, hit 23 winners and broke the 20-year-old Fils’ serve nine times. He outpointed his opponent 131-105. Despite the loss, the fourth round was the furthest Fils had gone in a major.

“I will be alright, I will find a way,” de Minaur said in his on-court interview, after he was asked if he had hurt his ankle as he stretched to hit the volley winner on match point. “I made it a lot harder than I should have but happy to get through. It was a great job mentally to get through it, even though I couldn’t serve out at the end. I just back my return and very happy with that and now onto the next.”

Now, de Minaur has achieved eight consecutive major quarterfinals. Next, he will go after his first Grand Slam semifinal on Wednesday, when he plays World No. 2 and second seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia, who defeated No. 13 seed Holger Rune of Denmark, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2, in two hours and three minutes on Centre Court Monday evening.

The seven-time Wimbledon champion Djokovic hit 21 winners, converted four of 14 break points and outpointed Rune 91-69 to advance to his 60th major quarterfinal — and 15th at Wimbledon.

“I am very pleased. I don’t think he played close to his best to be honest. It was a tough start for him,” Djokovic said in his on-court interview. “He lost the first 12 points and I think that got to him mentally. Waiting all day to come onto the court is not easy. The tension is building up every hour and you feel more and more tense and stressed.

“On my end, I think I did things the right way in the right moments. I stayed solid. I faced a couple of break points. Things could have looked different if I had dropped my service games but a very solid performance in the end and I am glad to get through in three sets.”

Rybakina, Svitolina set up quarterfinal showdown

No. 4 seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, the 2022 Wimbledon champion and the highest-remaining seed in this year’s women’s draw, advanced into the quarterfinals after No. 17 seed Anna Kalinskaya of Russia retired from their fourth-round match on Centre Court.

“Definitely not how I wanted to finish the match,” Rybakina said in her on-court interview. “Anna, she’s a great player. I know she was suffering with a couple of injuries and if it’s the wrist, it’s very difficult to continue to play. So, I just wish her a speedy recovery.”

Rybakina led 6-4, 3-0 when Kalinskaya stopped play after only 53 minutes. Kalinskaya had taken a medical time out in the middle of the opening set, then lost eight straight games before retiring.

The World No. 4 improved to 18-2 lifetime on grass after hitting 25 winners against Kalinskaya. She’s reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals in each of the last three years. After defeating Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur to win the 2022 Wimbledon title, she lost to Jabeur in last year’s quarterfinals.

Later, in her news conference, Rybakina was asked how she’s changed since winning Wimbledon two years ago. “With all the experiences, I just enjoy more now on the court.”

Next, Rybakina will meet No. 21 seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, a Wimbledon semifinalist last year. On No. 2 Court, an emotional Svitolina defeated No. 42 Wang Xinyu of a China, 6-2, 6-1, in just 55 minutes to advance to her 11th major quarterfinal and third at Wimbledon. She hit eight aces, converted four of six break points and outpointed Wang 62-35. It was her ninth win in her last 10 at Wimbledon.

Svitolina wore a black ribbon on her uniform in memory of dozens of Ukranians killed in a Russian missile attack on Kyiv overnight. She fought back tears when she spoke during her on-court interview.

“For sure it was a good performance from my side. It’s a very difficult today for Ukrainian people,”Svitolina said. “It was not very easy to focus today on the match. Since the morning it was difficult to read the news. To go on the court is extremely tough. I’m happy I could play today and get a win.”

Rybakina and Svitolina have played four previous times and each has won twice. Their most recent meeting was last month on the fourth round at Roland-Garros, won by Rybakina 6-4, 6-3. Rybakina won their only meeting on grass at Eastbourne in 2021.

Around the All England Club

No. 13 seed Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia reached her sixth major quarterfinal — and third at Wimbledon — with a 6-2, 6-3 win over No. 35 Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan, who eliminated World No. 1 and top seed Iga Swiatek of Poland a round earlier on Saturday.

The 2017 French Open champion Ostapenko, who is back into the last eight at Wimbledon for the first time in six years, closed out the victory on her third match point with a nifty seventh-shot slice backhand winner. Ostapenko hit 29 winners overall and outpointed Putintseva 63-49.

“This is one of my favorite tournaments,” Ostapenko said during her on-court interview. “I won it in juniors. I have great memories. We’re in a different place now. But I’m just really happy with my performance. I’m enjoying my time here so much.”

Next, Ostapenko will face No. 31 seed Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic, who upset No. 11 Danielle Collins of the United States, 7-5, 6-3, in one hour and 42 minutes on No. 1 Court Monday evening.

Krejcikova hit 20 winners and converted four of 15 break points against Collins, who was playing in her final Wimbledon Championships before retiring at the end of the season. Krejcikova outpointed Collins 77-58 to move into her first Wimbledon quarterfinal.

Monday’s Wimbledon results

Tuesday’s Wimbledon order of play

By the numbers

Three of Sunday’s fourth-round winners — Lulu Sun of New Zealand, Jasmine Paolini of Italy and Emma Navarro of the United States — had never won a match at Wimbledon prior to this year’s Championships.

“Quotable …”

“It means nothing — especially on my side of the draw, even though the players may not be as known, but they’re so talented. I think that’s something that people, fans of the game, are a little bit disrespectful [of] when it comes to other players on tour.”

— World No. 2 and second seed Coco Gauff, during her post-match news conference Sunday, following her 6-4, 6-3 loss to No. 19 seed Emma Navarro. Gauff was commenting on why she doesn’t underestimate any opponent regardless of their seeding or ranking.