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Tennis-Musetti makes hay in Wimbledon sunshine, Rybakina eyes title



Tennis-Musetti makes hay in Wimbledon sunshine, Rybakina eyes title

By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) – The sunshine finally appeared over Wimbledon and shone most brightly on Lorenzo Musetti on Wednesday as he continued a magnificent fortnight for Italian tennis by reaching his first Grand Slam semi-final with victory over Taylor Fritz.

But the injury curse that has blighted this year’s tournament struck again as Alex De Minaur was forced to withdraw before his quarter-final against Novak Djokovic.

The Australian’s despair was also bad news for Centre Court ticket holders who were left with only 61 minutes of singles action to digest – the time it took women’s fourth seed Elena Rybakina to beat Elina Svitolina’s 6-3 6-2.

Big-serving Rybakina, the 2022 champion and favourite now to lift the trophy for the second time, will face Barbora Krejcikova in Thursday’s semi-finals after the tamed the firepower of Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko for a 6-4 7-6(4) win in a battle of former French Open champions.

Thursday’s other women’s semi-final will be between Italian seventh seed Jasmine Paolini and Croatian Donna Vekic.

The 22-year-old Musetti initially looked like being overpowered by American big-hitter Fritz but produced a sublime display of silky all-court tennis to beat the 13th seed 3-6 7-6(5) 6-2 3-6 6-1 and set up a clash with Djokovic.

It is only the second time in history that an Italian man and woman have reached the semi-finals at a Grand Slam, the first coming last month when Paolini and Jannik Sinner reached the last four at the French Open.

“I don’t realise yet what I’ve done. First of all I want to thank all the Italian crowd who are here to support us,” the 25th seed Musetti said on court.

“We were joking about trying to play to the big stage at Wimbledon. I’ve never tried Court One and Centre Court. I played a fantastic match, because Taylor was in great shape.”


While Musetti was making hay in the sunshine, seven-time champion Djokovic was left redundant after De Minaur was forced out with a hip injury he suffered late on his match against Frenchman Arthur Fils on Monday.

“I’m devastated to pull out due to a hip injury, a little tear of the fibre cartilage that is at the end of or connects to the adductor,” ninth seed De Minaur, told reporters.

“I felt a loud crack during the last three points of my match against Fils and got a scan yesterday and it confirmed this was the injury and with high risk of making it worse if I was to step on court.”

De Minaur’s injury was the latest to impact players at Wimbledon this year where relentless rain has forced many of the matches on Centre Court and Court One to be played under roofs.

Grigor Dimitrov retired hurt during his match against Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev injured his knee against Cameron Norrie in the third round and blamed that on his defeat by Fritz in the last 16, saying he was playing on one leg.

On the women’s side Madison Keys had to quit in the fourth round against Paolini and Danielle Collins was also hurt in her fourth-round loss to Krejcikova.

Women’s second seed Aryna Sabalenka was forced out before the tournament even started and with most of the top seeds losing early, Kazakhstan’s Rybakina has emerged as the hot favourite to go all the way to the title.

She was far too good for Svitolina on Wednesday, once again using her potent service to great effect.

Ostapenko had blazed through the draw without the loss of a set but her heavy-metal tennis held no fears for Krejcikova whose superior craft proved decisive.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Alison Williams)

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