Australian Open: Novak Djokovic beats Taylor Fritz in gruelling four-set contest to reach semi-finals | Tennis News

Novak Djokovic beat Taylor Fritz 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 6-2 6-3 in an intense contest on Rod Laver Arena; Djokovic is seeking a record-extending 25th Grand Slam title and 11th triumph at Melbourne Park; Djokovic will face either Jannik Sinner or Andrey Rublev in the last four

Top seed Novak Djokovic came through a gruelling four-set contest with American Taylor Fritz to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open.

Djokovic, who is seeking a record-extending 25th Grand Slam title and 11th at Melbourne Park, wore Fritz down to win 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 6-2 6-3 in three hours and 45 minutes.

The Serb appeared to be in a real tussle when his inability to take advantage of 15 break points across the first two sets allowed Fritz to level the match after two sets that had taken a combined total of two hours and 23 minutes.

However, the American was unable to sustain what had been a hugely impressive level, and Djokovic broke twice in each of the final two sets to close out the match.

Djokovic is seeking a record-extending 25th Grand Slam title

“I suffered a lot in the first couple of sets, due to his high-quality tennis,” Djokovic said.

“He was serving well, he was staying close to the line and he was kind of suffocating me from the back of the court. Most of the rallies were on my back foot and it was really difficult to find the right timing.

“It was really hot while the sun was still out there. Physically very draining, emotionally as well.”

Djokovic will face either fourth seed Jannik Sinner or fifth seed Andrey Rublev in the last four, with the pair set for a late finish as the night session began more than two hours later than its scheduled 7pm start time due to both daytime matches on Rod Laver Arena going long.

Djokovic vs Fritz: Match stats

Djokovic Match Stats Fritz
20 Aces 16
3 Double Faults 2
82% 1st serve win percentage 66%
58% 2nd serve win percentage 48%
13/20 Net points won 19/29
4/21 Break points won 2/6
52 Total winners 63
26 Unforced errors 39
148 Total points won 121

The 36-year-old has now won 33 successive matches at the Australian Open, with his last defeat at the tournament having come in 2018. Djokovic was unable to defend his title in 2022 due to his coronavirus vaccination status.

Djokovic’s appearance in the semi-finals will be his 48th at a Grand Slam, extending a record he took sole ownership of on his way to winning the US Open in September.

Djokovic overcomes stiff Fritz resistance

The tone was set for the encounter, which began with the sun still beating down on Rod Laver Arena, when the opening game lasted for 16 minutes.

In a further sign of things to come, Fritz staved off three break points in that first game, with the American able to repeatedly summon his best tennis in the crucial moments.

He would fight off five more opportunities for Djokovic as the set went on, and then finally got his own chance as a pair of winners brought up two set points at 15-40.

Taylor Fritz was playing in the Australian Open quarter-finals for the first time

It was then Djokovic’s turn to deliver under pressure, as he played a pair of faultless points to get back to deuce and force a tiebreak.

Fritz, playing in the Australian Open quarter-finals for the first time, missed a an easy overhead as he served on the first point, handing a tiebreak advantage to Djokovic that he never let slip, easing to a 7-3 win.

Fritz regained his composure to break Djokovic in the opening game of the second set and then saved a break point immediately afterwards to consolidate his advantage.

Djokovic was tested by Fritz as the first two sets lasted well beyond two hours

Two more chances slipped away for Djokovic in the sixth game as Fritz produced four excellent points from 15-40 down, before the American saved four more break points in the eighth game with a series of stunning backhand winners.

In contrast, he would serve the set out to love to level the match, leaving a weary looking Djokovic to hold ice packs to either side of his head during the brief interval that followed.

However, with the heat easing as the sun disappeared, Djokovic finally broke through at the first opportunity in the third set.

Fritz posed little threat on Djokovic’s delivery as the Serb relaxed into a nice rhythm on serve before breaking again to take it 6-2.

Djokovic looked to have all but finished the job when he broke for a 4-2 lead in the fourth, but Fritz produced a spirited response to break straight back.

Not to be denied, Djokovic made it three breaks in as many games as Fritz double faulted when 0-40 down, before calmly closing out a win that in the end felt more comfortable than it had looked like being at the halfway stage.

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