By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
Another Grand Slam stint, another semifinal appearance.
Standing strong among the young and uprising stars in the ongoing Australian Open tournament is Serbian living legend Novak Djokovic who once again clinched a Top 4 qualification after taking down Taylor Fritz- 7.6, 4.6, 6.2, 6.3- in the quarterfinal round last January 23, 2024.
Despite a shaky start which allowed his American challenger to gain momentum in the nip-and-tuck first set, Djokovic was able to recover late to grab an early 1-0 lead.
However, Fritz showed grit and adjusted well with Djokovic’s patience in the baseline by setting up traps in the net area.
With this strategic move, Fritz scored a much-needed break point to re-establish his footing in the match while also equalizing the game at 1-all.
Just when Fritz thought he could sustain his net prowess and baseline defense heading into the third set, Djokovic flipped the switch midway through the third and began to take command of the match.
To counter Fritz’s quick net pressure, Djokovic varied his attack and slowed down the opposing’s net offense with his well-timed lob shots.
After unleashing his top-spin lobs, Djokovic went back to his forehand down the lines that confused Fritz.
It was all Djokovic in the fourth and final set as Fritz seemed to lose gas and was always caught off guard by the Serbian’s unpredictable court movement.
Fritz attempted to rally back behind his backhand slices to keep Djokovic in the baseline but the world no. 1 male tennis player was patient enough to trade with his own forehand slices that maintained his lead.
With the win, Djokovic just set up a highly-anticipated semifinal duel against world no. 4 ranked male player Jannik Sinner who earlier defeated Andrey Rublev during the quarterfinals.