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By Richard Pagliaro | @TennisNow | Saturday, June 22, 2024

 
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Tommy Paul stopped Sebastian Korda 6-4, 7-6(2) to reach his maiden Queen's Club final against Italian Lorenzo Musetti.

Photo credit: Mike Hewitt/Getty

American anthem hit Queen’s Club crescendo today.

Tommy Paul struck the winning note to close in on a career milestone.

MORE: Alcaraz Rips "Crazy" ATP Rule Change

In an all-American semifinal, Paul pounded an ace down the middle sealing a 6-4, 7-6(2) victory over Sebastian Korda to advance to the Queen’s Club final.

No. 5-seeded Paul avenged a 6-4, 6-2 quarterfinal loss to Korda at ‘s-Hertogenbosch last week, defeating his fellow Floridian for the second time in six meetings. Paul converted three of six break points and won 19 of 31 points played on the Korda second serve.

"I'm happy with how I'm playing," Paul said afterward. "I feel like every time I step on the grass I learn something and I'm getting a little better. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a little better.

"I don't think it was any secret between the two of us: We wanted to play offense. So I feel like I did a pretty good job there at the end."




Paul is is the first American finalist at the cinch Championships since former Wimbledon semifinalist Samy Querrey defeated Mardy Fish to capture the 2010 Queen’s Club crown.

Charging into his sixth career final, Paul will play for a twin milestone tomorrow. Paul is playing for his first career grass-court championship and if he wins he will surpass Taylor Fritz as the new American No. 1.

The lone seed still standing, Paul, who conquered British No. 1 Jack Draper on Friday, will face talented Italian Lorenzo Musetti in tomorrow’s final.

It will be the first meeting between the pair, who both possess confounding kick serves and can both play all-court tennis.

Earlier, Musetti imposed his net skills at the right time, topping Jordan Thompson 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

The stylish Italian won 24 of 32 trips to net to become only the fourth Italian man to advance to an ATP final on grass.




Musetti served out today’s first semifinal at love then fell flat on his back to the Queen’s Club lawn in celebration.

Former junior world No. 1 Musetti owns a 2-0 career record in ATP finals. Musetti fought off 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz in the 2022 Hamburg final at the age of 20 in the youngest ATP Tour final since 2005 Bastad.

In an all-Italian final at the 2022 Naples, an inspired Musetti cooked up clever variety defeating Davis Cup teammate Matteo Berrettini 7-6(5), 6-2 to win his first career hard-court title at the Tennis Napoli Cup.

Rather than spraying celebratory champagne that day, Musetti threw himself a pizza party.

"I prefer to enjoy and celebrate with great pizza," Musetti said. "So I will probably enjoy with a Margherita for sure.”

Should Musetti prevail on the London lawn tomorrow, he will own three Tour-level titles, including two 500-level crowns, on three different surfaces, which is a testament to his variety and adaptability.

In an ideal start to the second semifinal, Paul broke at love for a 2-0 lead.

The 2023 Australian Open semifinalist Paul confirmed the break at 30 in racing out to a 4-1 lead after only 16 minutes of play.

Korda, who was applying an ice bag to his left eye during changeovers, was striking with more ambition as he came back to even after eight games.

Even at 4-all, 30-all, Paul showed athletic explosiveness bounding high for a sky-hook slam reminiscent of the young Jimmy Connors. That shot was a prelude to a Paul lob that helped him seal the hold for 5-4.

In the next game, Korda was sliding right when he turned over his right ankle and crashed to the grass.

That painful fall put Korda in a triple-set point hole. A Korda drive was initially called out, but chair umpire James Keothavong immediately over-ruled and replay showed the chair was correct.

On his second set point, Paul converted when Korda sprayed a backhand down the line wide. After the 41-minute opening set ended, Korda requested the physio.

Despite issues with his ankle and his eye, Korda kept commitment to the cause as he rallied from 1-4 down for the second straight set.

The 23-year-old Korda came back from 2-5 down and broke back when Paul served for the final at 5-3.




That ninth game featured one of the best points of the day as a sprinting Paul made a flick get to extend the point. Korda, who was nearly off the court believing the point was over, answered with a drop volley winner.

In the tiebreaker, Korda committed his first double fault as Paul gained the mini break and a 2-1 lead. Paul won both of his serve points, running off five points in a row to go up 6-1.



On his second match point, Paul pumped an ace down the T closing in one hour, 41 minutes advancing to the second ATP 500 final of his career.


 

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