Taylor Fritz responds to Novak Djokovic’s comments ahead of Australian Open showdown

Kevin Palmer
Taylor Fritz celebrates a big win
Taylor Fritz celebrates a big win

Novak Djokovic claims the conditions at the Australia Open may be in his favour in their quarter-final showdown.

Fritz claimed a huge victory against last year’s runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas to book his place in the last eight in Melbourne for the first time.

The American went into the match with a 0-11 record against top-10 players at Grand Slam tournaments but came away with a 7-6 (3) 5-7 6-3 6-3 triumph to reach the quarter-finals in Melbourne for the first time.

He will need to achieve another first if he is to go further having lost all eight previous meetings with Djokovic, including a painful five-set defeat in the third round three years ago when the Serbian suffered an abdominal injury mid-match.

Cheered on by Melbourne’s large Greek population, Tsitsipas has enjoyed the best results of his career at the Australian Open but he failed to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 2020.

Now Fritz faces the ultimate challenge in tennis, as he aims to become the first man to beat Djokovic at the Australian Open since 2018.

Djokovic’s 8-0 winning record against Fritz does not suggest the American will challenge his dominance, but the fast court on Rod Laver Arena may give the big-server a chance to cause an upset.

Djokovic hinted he was relishing the chance play against Fritz and the American respects that bullish position.

“If I beat someone eight times in a row, I’d be pretty confident playing them, too, I’d have to say. I can’t really fault him for that,” said Fritz.

“I think the conditions here are definitely better for me than maybe US Open or Cincinnati. I mean, to be honest, the only decent match I’ve played against him in our last couple of meetings was in Turin at the end of ’22.

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“In that match I served for the second set. It was pretty close. Since then when I’ve played him, I’ve played pretty poor, I think.

“I think that I have a lot more level to bring than I’ve previously brought against him. Hopefully I can play another match like I did today (against Tsitsipas).

“As far as playing me, hasn’t ever had a reason to change up what he’s doing or change strategy because it’s always gone his way.

“I think there are people that I have played quite a bit over the years who I’ve gone back and forth with. Maybe I win, maybe I lose. Between us we’ve made a lot of adjustments to the game plan and changed a lot of things around.

“I mean, it’s been one-sided with Novak. I feel like he’s played me pretty much the same every time.”

Djokovic insists his flawless record against Fritz does not mean he will be taking anything for granted when they meet for a ninth time.

“Even though I know the guys, I still have to do my homework because everyone is trying to get better,” said Djokovic.

“Especially the guys at the top, they want to move the bar at least for one or two per cent, or try different things, maybe, yeah, disguise their flaws in the game and improve them so they’re not as exposed in the certain shots. That’s why.

“I mean, it’s my passion and my love, but it’s also my work and my profession. Of course, along with my coach and team, I have to do things on a daily basis to make myself prepared for every opponent.”