‘I will try to challenge Novak Djokovic after close Melbourne clash,’ says Fritz

Taylor Fritz secured the 19th Masters 1000 victory on Monday in Rome, beating Daniel Evans 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and 16 minutes. Thus, Taylor advanced into the second round, where he plays against Novak Djokovic on Tuesday. The American has lost the previous three matches against the Serb, hoping for a better run at Foro Italico after pushing Novak to the distance at the Australian Open in February. Taylor said that he didn’t play well against Evans early on, spraying some errors before finding the rhythm that carried him over the top. Speaking about Novak, Taylor suggested that world no. 1 beat him badly on clay in Monte Carlo and Madrid in 2019, wishing for a more favorable outcome in Rome. Two years ago, Djokovic beat Fritz 6-3, 6-0 in Monte Carlo, dominating set number two to advance into the quarters. A few weeks later, the Serb needed 65 minutes to oust the American 6-4, 6-2, losing only eight points behind the initial shot and seizing all three break chances to sail through.

Their third and by far the most thrilling clash came in Melbourne this February when an injured Novak prevailed 7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2 in the third round. The young American gave his best to challenge the world’s leading player and stay competitive, bouncing back from 5-2 down in the opening set to reach a tie break and suffering only one break in set number two. Despite that, Novak claimed both sets to forge a massive advantage, looking good to seal the deal in straight sets and score another comfortable victory at his beloved Rod Laver Arena.

Taylor Fritz will try to beat Novak Djokovic for the first time in Rome.

His plans could have crashed in a moment following a nasty abdominal injury after one awkward slide at the beginning of the third set. Djokovic lost strength in his strokes, and Fritz took advantage of that, claiming the following two sets to force a decider and standing a chance to earn a career-best victory. Instead of that, the Serb somehow recovered at the beginning of the fourth set, losing it but raising his level to give his fans hope ahead of the decider. Fritz couldn’t match that pace and failed to impose his shots, losing ground in the final set to send Djokovic over the top with a double break on the Serb’s tally.

“I was really frustrated to give away an early break. Evans played two pretty good points, then I missed two forehands. I thought I was hitting the ball really well right from the beginning. I just told myself not to get too upset about it, as I was playing well. Dan has been playing well lately, beating Novak in Monte-Carlo, so it’s great to get a strong win. I will try my best against Djokovic. We played twice on clay in 2018, in Monte-Carlo and Madrid, and now we are closing the circle with another match in Rome. I got beaten pretty bad those two times. I feel better prepared to play him now after that Australian Open clash,” Taylor Fritz said.

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