Tournament favourite Novak Djokovic beat American Taylor Fritz in four sets, 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 6-2 6-3 to qualify for the Australian Open semifinals. Djokovic is chasing his 11th Australian Open title and 25th grand slam, extending his record over Rafael Nadal (22).
The match started at about 5 pm local time in temperatures of 31C. Djokovic had many chances to break Fritz in the opening set but seemed to become frustrated as he was unable to take any advantage of them. The 26-year-old Fritz created two set points at 6-5 to almost take the first but Djokovic was able to hold on and force a tiebreak.
The tiebreak went the way of the Serbian, as he seemed to regain his composure. Looking in discomfort from the heat, Djokovic was seen regularly using ice towels to cool himself down.
After an early break of serve in the first game of the second set, Fritz was able to push ahead in the second and level the match. Unfortunately he seemed to reaggregate his foot injury which led to him being broken twice in the third set.
In control, Djokovic was able to finish off the match with a dominant fourth set where Fritz could only win two games.
Fritz, who had lost all eight of his previous meetings with Djokovic, will need to keep waiting for his next chance against the World No 1. This match however was far tighter than their U.S. Open quarterfinal last year, when Djokovic was able to dispatch Fritz in straight sets.
Djokovic hasn’t lost at the Australian Open since a fourth-round loss against South Korea’s Chung Hyeon in 2018.
Next up for Djokovic will be Jannik Sinner, who was victorious in his quarterfinal matchup against Andrey Rublev, 6-4 7-6 (7-5) 6-3. The fourth seed beat Djokovic twice in the span of 12 days last November, once at the ATP Finals in Turin, Italy and again at the Davis Cup. Overall, Djokovic is 4-2 against Sinner, but the Italian has won the last two.
It should be noted that Sinner appeared to have injured himself during his quarter final matchup against Rublev, showing discomfort in his right abdomen. Sinner has yet to release any information about the injury.
After clinching the only break of the first set in the fifth game against Rublev, Sinner was able to capture the first quite easily. The second set however required him to save six consecutive set points in the tie-breaker to come back from a 5-1 lead. Rublev appeared deflated after losing the second set and ended up surrendering the third and final set, 6-3.
The defeat ended Rublev’s perfect start to the 2024 season after winning nine matches in a row. The Russian is now 0-10 in major quarter-finals.
Alcaraz and Medvedev Favorites To Meet In Other Semi
Number 2 seed Carlos Alcaraz and No 3 seed Daniil Medvedev will be playing their quarterfinal matchups on Wednesday. Alcaraz will be taking on Alexander Zverev while Medvedev will battle Polish Hubert Hurkacz.
Both Medvedev and Alcaraz came into the tournament as the biggest obstacles in Djokovic’s way to his 25th title. If both of them can make it through the quarters they will need to face each other for a place in the finals.
The two have played each other five times so far. Medvedev won the first match; Alcaraz won the next two, then Medvedev won at the US Open in 2023. Their last match was won by Alcaraz at the ATP Finals on November 17.
Full list of matchups:
2023 ATP Finals RR – Alcaraz won 6-4, 6-4
2023 US Open quarter-finals – Medvedev won 7-6 (3), 6-1, 3-6, 6-3
2023 Wimbledon semi-final – Alcaraz won 6-3, 6-3, 6-3
2023 Indian Wells Masters final – Alcaraz won 6-3, 6-2
2021 Wimbledon second round – Medvedev won 6-4, 6-1, 6-2
Based on their recent history, a Medvedev-Alcaraz semifinal should be very hard to predict. Both players have looked in form during the Australian Open so far and can beat anyone on their given day.