'Novak Djokovic was on the ropes against Taylor Fritz in Australia,' says Woodbridge

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'Novak Djokovic was on the ropes against Taylor Fritz in Australia,' says Woodbridge

Novak Djokovic will chase history at the US Open in the next two weeks, seeking the first calendar Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969. Novak claimed the previous three Major events in 2021, overcoming all the challenges to match Federer and Nadal and earning a chance to pass them in New York.

Interestingly, Novak's Major streak could have been over after only two matches following an abdominal injury against Taylor Fritz at the Australian Open. Despite the injury, Novak prevailed over Taylor 7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2 to enter the last 16.

The young American gave his best to challenge the world's leading player and stay competitive, bouncing back from 5-2 down in the opening set to reach a tie break and suffering only one break in set number two. Despite that, Novak claimed both sets to forge a massive advantage, looking good to seal the deal in straight sets and score another comfortable victory at his beloved Rod Laver Arena.

His plans could have crashed in a moment following a nasty abdominal injury after one awkward slide at the beginning of the third set. Djokovic lost strength in his strokes, and Fritz took advantage of that, claiming the following two sets to force a decider and standing a chance to earn a career-best victory.

Instead, the Serb somehow recovered at the beginning of the fourth set, losing it but raising his level to give his fans hope ahead of the decider. Fritz could not match that pace and failed to impose his shots, losing ground in the final set to send Djokovic over the top with a double break on the Serb's tally.

Novak Djokovic suffered an abdominal injury against Taylor Fritz in Melbourne.

"Novak is going to approach it the same way as he does between Roland Garros and Wimbledon. So it's new and fresh, and it's obviously a different challenge altogether.

I think he's going to come into this US Open more relaxed than we might expect. Definitely, he's the favorite. We assume he is fit, and he is the cleanest ball-striker out there in that case. I think Novak's focus is extraordinary.

You often find breakthroughs from younger players in New York because they get this absolute lift from it all. This chasing crop has still got more to go, but they are better players than they were two years ago, and they keep getting experience and are learning from it.

To get to this point of chasing a calendar Grand Slam is extraordinary – Taylor Fritz had Novak on the ropes in the Australian Open third round. He was also two sets to love down against Lorenzo Musetti and Tsitsipas at Roland Garros.

Novak had been a couple of points or ten minutes from the defeat on several occasions, and he overcame all the obstacles," Todd Woodbridge said.