Novak Djokovic drops major praise on Taylor Fritz: 'He made me struggle'

Novak Djokovic took down Taylor Fritz in just under four hours in Melbourne

by Jovica Ilic
Novak Djokovic drops major praise on Taylor Fritz: 'He made me struggle'
© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Novak Djokovic had to dig deep in the Australian Open quarter-final clash against Taylor Fritz. Two rivals met during the day session at Rod Laver Arena, balancing between an on-court battle and a boiling Melbourne sun above them.

The veteran prevailed 7-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 in three hours and 45 minutes, booking a place in his 11th semi-final in Melbourne and remaining on the title course. Fritz delivered rock-solid tennis in the opening two sets, keeping Djokovic on the court for two hours and 23 minutes and making him run for his money.

A 24-time Major champion praised his opponent and his game plan. Novak highlighted Taylor's aggressive approach that made him uncomfortable and on the back foot. The American went for his shots and kept his backhand safe, firing cracking winners from his weaker wing in the pivotal moments.

Also, Fritz pushed Djokovic to the limits after fending off incredible 15 break chances in sets one and two, an unprecedented feat in the Serb's match.

Taylor Fritz, Australian Open 2024© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

However, the American could not maintain that level in sets three and four, getting broken four times and finishing his run in the quarter-final despite a valiant effort.

Novak stayed on the court after the second set while Taylor took a toilet break. The Serb used ice bags to cool himself down, looking fresh from the third set. Also, the sun slowly went down, which also boosted his sails. Djokovic served well, losing serve two times and firing 56 winners and 26 unforced errors.

Novak grabbed 40% of the return points and failed to seal the deal earlier after seizing four out of 21 break opportunities! The opening set started with a 16-minute game and went on for 84 minutes! Fritz denied eight break points and created two set points with a forehand winner at 6-5.

Djokovic denied them with winners and forced the rival's mistake at 6-3 in the tie break for massive momentum.

Novak Djokovic praised Taylor Fritz following their Melbourne duel.

Not going away, Taylor erased all seven break points in the second set, including three with backhand winners at 3-4, keeping Novak at a miserable 0-15 break points conversation.

The American built an early advantage with a volley winner in the opening game. He survived those challenging games and wrapped up the set with a hold at love at 5-4 after a service winner, leveling the overall score after a grueling two hours and 23 minutes.

Novak preserved energy and played well in the third set, producing one good hold after another and finally stealing Taylor's serve.

Novak Djokovic© Getty Images Sport - Daniel Pockett

Djokovic clinched it in the second game with a forehand winner, moving in front and returning at 5-2.

The Serb grabbed another break with a backhand winner, wrapping up the set in style and becoming the favorite ahead of the fourth. Djokovic broke Fritz in the sixth game for a 4-2 advantage before losing serve in the next one after Fritz's lucky net cord winner.

Taylor lost the drive behind the initial shot and experienced another break in game eight after a costly double fault. Novak served for the victory at 5-3 and emerged at the top with a forehand winner, defeating a formidable rival and remaining on the title course.

"Taylor made me uncomfortable after playing aggressive tennis and serving well. He stayed close to the baseline and took the ball early, making me run and keeping me back foot many times. Taylor had a clear game plan and went for his shots," Novak Djokovic said.

Novak Djokovic Taylor Fritz