'I was worried about my dear Novak Djokovic,' Boris Becker admits

Novak Djokovic battled for almost four hours against Taylor Fritz in Melbourne

by Jovica Ilic
'I was worried about my dear Novak Djokovic,' Boris Becker admits
© Cameron Spencer / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Novak Djokovic remained on the Australian Open title course following a tight 7-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over the 12th seed Taylor Fritz. Two rivals battled during the day session and pushed each other to the limits in the opening two sets, fighting for nearly two and a half hours!

Novak's former coach, Boris Becker, was worried about him when Taylor sealed the second set, with Novak struggling physically in warm conditions and breathing heavily. While the American left the court for a toilet break, the Serb stayed at Rod Laver Arena and tried to cool down himself with ice bags.

Novak scored an early break in the third set and never looked back, feeling better as the sun went down and toppling his rival after three hours and 45 minutes. Djokovic overcame all the obstacles and his terrible 0-15 score on break points in the first two sets, cracking the rival's serve in sets three and four to emerge at the top and reach his 11th Australian Open semi-final.

Novak served well, landing 20 aces and backing them with 56 winners and 26 unforced errors.

unknown© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The Serb lost serve two times and turned 40% of the return points into four breaks from 21 opportunities, going from 0-15 to 4-6 in sets three and four!

Djokovic fired more service winners than Fritz, forging the advantage in the shortest rallies up to four strokes. They embraced a roller coaster in the opening set, fighting for 84 minutes and creating chances on both sides.

Novak wasted eight break points and missed a chance to wrap up the set earlier. After missing his chances, Djokovic experienced a scare in the 12th game while serving to stay in the set. Taylor earned two set points with a forehand down the line winner, and Novak erased them with winners, staying calm and arranging a tie break.

The more experienced player built the lead and wrapped up the breaker with a forced error at 6-3, moving in front after almost an hour and a half under warm Melbourne sun. The American kept fighting in the second set, denying seven more break points and firing 20 winners.

Boris Becker explained his worries about Novak Djokovic.

Taylor broke Novak in the first game with a volley winner and fired two winners at 3-2 to maintain the advantage. Fritz struggled again in game eight, facing four break points and denying them with winners, three from his backhand, keeping Djokovic at 0-15 on break points!

Taylor held at love in game ten with a service winner, taking it 6-4 and leveling the overall score after two hours and 23 minutes of grueling tennis. Despite the struggle, Djokovic made a fresh start in the third set, serving well and finally breaking the spell on the return.

Novak painted a forehand crosscourt winner in the first game, earning a break and never looking back, forging a 3-0 advantage with a hold at love.

Novak Djokovic, Australian Open 2024© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Djokovic led 5-2 and clinched another break in game eight, stealing Fritz's serve at love with a backhand winner and gaining a boost after three hours.

Novak missed two break points in the second game of the fourth set before stealing the rival's serve in game six for a 4-2 lead. Taylor pulled it back a few minutes later with a lucky net cord forehand winner, but it was not enough to keep him in contention.

The American played another loose service game and hit a double fault to find himself 5-3 down, propelling the Serb closer to the finish line. Novak sealed the deal with a forehand winner in game nine, passing a challenging obstacle and entering the semi-final.

"I was worried about my dear Novak after the second set. He struggled physically under the sun and breathed heavily. It was a tight battle, with the opening set lasting almost an hour and a half. Taylor went for a toilet break after the second set, and Novak stayed on the court and recovered.

He grabbed an early break in the third set, and I was sure he would win the match," Boris Becker said.

Novak Djokovic Boris Becker Taylor Fritz