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Lorenzo Musetti and Jasmine Paolini add Italian flavour to Wimbledon

LONDON – The loss of Jannik Sinner in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon is not a tragedy for Italy. After the defeat of the world number one, the Italians enjoy the marble backhand of Lorenzo Musetti and the radiant smile of the multicultural Jasmine Paolini. Both will shine on the grass of London in 2024.

“I probably played my best tennis today,” Musetti rightly said. The Queens finalist played phenomenal and old-school tennis against Taylor Fritz, especially in the fifth set. Musetti varied his slice and flat shots with class and made Fritz run with surprising drop shots and counter-attacking lobs. He was effective when he went to the net and was able to dominate in a back-and-forth match 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.

The Italian became a father in March, just a few days after his 22nd birthday. Perhaps family time is one of the keys for Musetti in what has been the best Grand Slam campaign of his career so far: in his spare time, he has been spotted in a white jumpsuit, strolling with his little Ludovico and his partner, designer Veronica Confalonieri, through the streets of Wimbledon Village.

He will have the challenge of competing against another father who is at Wimbledon with his children, but instead of letting them wander around, he is playing tennis with them. Novak Djokovic reached the semi-finals without playing due to Alex De Minaur’s injury. Instead of working on Centre Court, the Serb played with Stefan and Tara on the courts at Aorangi Park.

β€œHe probably knows the surface and the stadium better,” Musetti said humorously of the seven-time champion: β€œHe did some great things here at Wimbledon. We always had great battles and on Friday I expect another one. It will be the ultimate challenge of my career.”

A Wimbledon final is a very rare prize for Italy, a country with a great tennis culture and structure. In the entire history, only Matteo Berretini played in that event (2021).

Jasmine Paolini, as Musetti, smiles at Wimbledon // WIMBLEDON

Jasmine Paolini will also play her cards, but on a surface where she did not have a good record. Of the 11 matches she had won in her life, eight came in the last two weeks, in Eastbourne and Wimbledon. The explanation for her campaign in England? Paolini finally listened to her coach.

“I didn’t realize it before, but my coach always said I had the conditions to play well here. I didn’t really believe it. I never expected to reach the semi-finals here. I enjoy the grass,” she said after earning her place in the tournament’s top four.

Paolini is a cultural mix of Ghanaian and Polish descent on her mother’s side and Italian on her father’s side. She is known on the circuit as the tennis player with the eternal smile. Donna Vekic, her opponent in the semi-final, described her well: “She is a very nice girl, you will always see her smiling. I don’t know if there is anyone who smiles more than her on a tennis court.”

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