Djokovic Moves Past Fritz In Rainy Rome
On a rainy Tuesday, Novak Djokovic managed to close out a 6-3, 7-6(5) win over Taylor Fritz in the second round of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. All other remaining matches have been cancelled including Daniil Medvedev's showdown with Aslan Karatsev.
Djokovic and Fritz's most recent encounter was a five-set battle in the third round of the Australian Open, but this time Djokovic came out sharp. The Serbian broke in Fritz’s first service game, and made 70 per cent of his first serves in the opening set to comfortably close it out.
"It was a very strange match with strange conditions. Obviously playing under the rain non-stop for almost two full sets, it is challenging for both me and him," Djokovic said. "I thought that I had an advantage there because the conditions were slower which allows me to return his serves, because he's got really big serves."
The second set began in nearly identical fashion with Djokovic breaking in the first game to establish early dominance. The World No. 1 had to step his level up to save a two break points at 4-3, but then Fritz went for broke on Djokovic’s next service game at 5-4 and was rewarded for it by evening out the match. After already playing most of the match in rainy conditions, play was stopped at 5-5 at 4:40 p.m.
"I kind of kept the match under my control for most part of the two sets, then served for the match; very sloppy service game," Djokovic said. "He played well, made a great passing shot to come back. I was stressed out in the end obviously, but I think it was the right call to stop the match."
When they returned to the court three hours later, both players held serve comfortably and Djokovic closed out the win on his first match point in the tie-break. Djokovic is 4-2 since winning his 17th major at the Australian Open after a third-round exit in Monte-Carlo and a semi-final appearance in Belgrade.
"I haven't played a lot at all, so I don't feel physically exhausted or worn out," Djokovic said.
Djokovic improves to 4-0 in his ATP Head2Head Series against Fritz as he looks to defend his crown in Rome where he is 56-9 with five titles. He'll next face either Cameron Norrie or Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.