Taylor Fritz gives a graphic glimpse of how it feels to play against Novak Djokovic

Kevin Palmer
Taylor Firtz came up short at the Australian Open
Taylor Firtz came up short at the Australian Open

Taylor Fritz lost his ninth successive match against Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open and he has given a graphic insight into how it feels to play against the world No 1.

Djokovic had beaten American Fritz in all eight of their previous meetings but this was certainly not straightforward, with the top seed finally securing a 7-6 (3) 4-6 6-2 6-3 victory after three hours and 45 minutes.

The first game alone lasted 16 minutes and the first set 84 minutes as they toiled in the heat on Rod Laver Arena.

Fritz, looking to reach a slam semi-final for the first time at the third attempt, remarkably saved all 15 break points he faced in the opening two sets, and he impressively levelled the contest.

It was just the third set he had won against the Serbian, with the other two both coming in a third-round clash here in 2021, when Djokovic suffered an abdominal injury but still managed to win in five.

In this latest meeting, Djokovic began to turn the screw in the third set as Fritz started to feel his left foot, and successive breaks in the fourth set him on the way to a record-extending 48th slam semi-final.

As he reflected on his latest defeat against the Serbian, Fritz gave a compelling insight into the pressure Djokovic applies to every opponent he faces.

“He’s so fast he doesn’t really miss a lot of balls,” said Fritz.

“He definitely makes you really work and, like, hit quality shots to win points. It’s also just like the lack of free points he gives you.

“I never just hit a second serve and he just misses it. That just doesn’t happen. Even when I’m going after my second serve, like hitting second serves that are consistently like 100, 105 miles per hour, like jamming him, he still just puts it on the baseline.

“It’s definitely tough when you don’t get those free points and you have to work for every single point.”

READ MORE: Novak Djokovic’s biggest Australian Open threat revealed – and it’s NOT Carlos Alcaraz

Fritz went on to suggest he knows what he needs to do to beat Djokovic, but playing almost perfect tennis for five hours against the most successful player of all-time is one of the toughest tasks in all of sport.

“It’s tough to just sustain that level for probably two, three more hours,” he added. “I haven’t really gotten to play at that level and play against that level that often.

“You know, it’s tough to prepare for something like that, especially when I’ve had an offseason with just injuries and trying to get healthy and haven’t really been able to put as much time as I wanted to into just the workload on the court and in the gym.

“I’ve done what I can, but it’s tough to prepare you for playing that physicality for potentially four, five hours.

“I really feel like I played well, I feel like I’m a better player. Yeah, the number, the record sounds very discouraging, but I’m constantly improving as a player. I know that if I play the way that I played the first two sets, if I bring that level for five sets, then, you know, it’s possible.”

Fritz is right to suggest he was closer to challenging Djokovic than in most of their nine meetings, but the harsh reality is he was still a long way from finding a way to beat the world No 1.

There may be a ten-year age gap between Djokovic and Fritz, but there remains a big gap both physically and technically between the 24-time Grand Slam champion and a player who appears to be a quarter-finalist rather than a winner when it matters most.