Djokovic beats Fritz three sets to two!
It’s over. Djokovic roars with delight in victory, shakes hands with Fritz, and then roars again. That really is how champions do it. Fritz had the biggest opportunity of his career but, in truth, seemed to fade away in the final set. But perhaps that is just a testament to how well Djokovic played.
Fritz survives the match point – Djokovic went for a spectacular forehand winner to finish the contest, but put it in the net. Fritz then finds a fantastic wide serve for his own advantage, but Djokovic saves it with a great forehand winner and fashions another match point …
A cracking winner down the line from Djokovic. Ivanisevic applauds from up in the stand. 30-30 on Fritz’s serve … and now it’s to deuce. Fritz dumps a backhand into the net and it’s a first match point for the Serb.
Djokovic holds! It’s 5-2 and he’s a game away from grinding out victory, despite being in a lot of obvious discomfort. If Fritz thought the final set against an ailing Djokovic was a foregone conclusion, his opponent has shown him something different.
Lajovic v Zverev, Thiem v Dimitrov and Auger-Alliassme v Karatsev are the confirmed fourth-round ties in the men’s singles.
Stunning! Djokovic breaks and leads 4-2 in the final set. It’s difficult to work out the extent of Djokovic’s side injury, but he is moving well just about now, if not with his usual fluency. It will be interesting to hear what he has to say about it afterwards.
Meanwhile, back on court, Djokovic holds his serve for 3-2 in the final set. And now he has Fritz at 30-30 … and a break point for Djokovic!
The confirmed women’s singles fourth-round matches confirmed so far are as follows: Hsieh v Vondrousova, Muguruza v Osaka, Sabalenka v Williams, Swiatek v Halep.
Fritz hits a clean backhand winner to the corner which just kisses the baseline. Djokovic permits himself a smile. Djokovic then has a slice of luck of his own with a big forehand that clips the net but lands in court. The Serb then audibly groans in pain as he tries to chase down a wide shot by Fritz. Fritx holds for 2-2.
Djokovic fires straight back, holds easily, and it’s 2-1 to the world No 1 in the final set.
Fritz holds for 1-1 in the fifth and final set.
The state of Victoria is now officially in lockdown
Hopefully all the fans made it home on time …
After her win against Anastasia Potapova earlier, Serena Williams spoke to the media about the looming lockdown:
“It’s rough. It’s going to be a rough few days for I think everyone,” Williams said of the new restrictions. “But we’ll hopefully get through it. It’s not ideal. It’s been really fun to have the crowd back, especially here. It’s been really cool. But at the end of the day we have to do what’s best. Hopefully it will be all right. I think basically we just go to the tennis, to the hotel. I’m not sure. I would imagine that would be it. I’ve been doing that for 20 years, so I think I’ve been pretty much quarantining for my whole career.”
It’s deuce in the first game of set. Djokovic drops his racquet and complains about something – I don’t know what – after Fritz makes it deuce. But then, the world No 1 winds up a couple of huge forehands, and takes the game. It’s 1-0.
Fritz wins the fourth set against Djokovic
We are level at 2-2. The fans are all going home but the tennis continues. In the absence of crowd noise, Djokovic is conducting a chat with his team up in the stands. He doesn’t look happy, but can he find a way?
The Serb Djokovic holds serve for 5-4, and carries out a few stretches before facing Fritz’s serve. The American, who hails from California, may be about to find himself 2-2 in sets with the world No 1.
This is a very relevant point from Elaine Simpson-Long on Twitter:
Djokovic appears to be much more comfortable on his backhand, but is maybe moving a bit more freely on the forehand side, too. However, Fritz holds his serve easily to make it 5-3, despite his first double fault of the match. Djokovic must serve to stay in this fourth set.
Djokovic holds to trail 4-3 in the fourth against the world No 31. The lockdown in the state of Victoria begins in 15 minutes. Strange times and no mistake.
The fans have all gone home and we are back in business. Fritz holds to love, to go 4-2 up in the fourth set. He still needs to win two sets against one of the greatest players in history. But, that player currently looks to be struggling badly with a side strain or muscle pull of some sort. He runs down a lob by Djokovic and smacks a forehand winner with Djokovic stranded.
The umpire was halfway through an announcement, telling the crowd that they have to be ‘home by 11.59’, when Eurosport cut to an advert break. So presumably, play is now suspended until all the fans leave? This is going to descend into farce, if it hasn’t already. And yes indeed. Play is suspended. All the fans have been asked to leave. They have been told that play is suspended until the arena is empty, but a number of fans are refusing to leave. It seems now that the vast majority are leaving but there are plenty of boos ringing out. Djokovic is probably grateful for an extra rest. Up in the stands, Goran Ivanisevic, one of Djokovic’s coaches, is glued to his mobile phone. He can stay.
Out on the court, Djokovic is still struggling, and looks to be particularly uncomfortable on his forehand side. He dumps an easy volley into the net. Is he going to retire? That was not a shot that was anywhere what you expect from a world No 1.
Fritz breaks! He leads 2-1 in the fourth, but trails 2-1 in sets. Now, presumably, all the fans are going to be asked to leave? During the earlier match between Thiem and Kyrgios, we were told that all the fans would be obliged to leave the venue by 11.30pm Melbourne time, which is 29 minutes before the lockdown kicks in at 11.59. The commentator on Eurosport speculates that the the fans will be allowed to stay ‘for another two games at least’ in this fourth set.
Will all the fans be breaking the law if they try to stay?
Back in the men’s singles and Taylor Fritz, the American, has his tail up against the world No 1 Novak Djokovic, who has some sort of to his side, and is not moving comfortably at all. Djokovic won the first two sets, 7-5, 6-4, before taking a medical time out in the third set, which was subsequently won 6-3 by Fritz.
Swiatek beats Ferro 6-4, 6-3
Swiatek nearly takes the victory at match point with a deep forehand to the corner but it’s fractionally out … but she makes no mistake at the second attempt, and wraps up an ultimately comfortable 6-4, 6-3 win against Ferro of France. She is through to the second week in the women’s singles, for the second year in a row. Swiatek will meet Simona Halep in the next round.
At deuce, Djokovic shouts over at his trainers, looking really agitated, but wins the next point for advantage in the first game of the fourth set. But then he sends a forehand long and we’re back to deuce.
This Covid-19 lockdown is drawing ever closer. It officially begins in 45 minutes. The fans have apparently been told to make their way home (although that happened during an advert break so I didn’t hear the announcement). Lots of fans are staying, which is evidenced by the fact that they are shouting before a Djokovic serve.
“I shouldn’t have to keep saying this,” says the umpire, as he asks them to pipe down.
Swiatek is now serving for the match against Ferro, 5-2 up in the second.
Fritz wins the third set against Djokovic!
Is there a major upset brewing here? Taylor wins the third, 6-3, and he trails by two sets to one. Djokovic doesn’t look happy with this injury …
Swiatek saves that break, then takes the game, and assumes a 4-2 lead in the second set and looks on course.
Djokovic has gone for a bit more treatment on this muscle problem.
Swiatek, meanwhile, is facing a break point against Ferro at 3-2 in the second set. But she finds a big first serve, and takes it to deuce.
Djokovic is two sets up – but appears to have a problem. He has called for the trainer as he seems to have a muscle injury of some sort, possibly an intercostal muscle by his ribs?
In the third set, the world No 1 Djokovic is locked at 3-3 with Taylor Fritz. He certainly doesn’t appear to be moving freely.
Swiatek is 3-2 up on Ferro now in the second set, having won the first set 6-4.
Thiem will face Grigor Dimitrov in the next round. “I’m looking forward to it,” he says. And there you go. Over to Djokovic for a while then … I hope they’ll be showing some of Swiatek’s match against Ferro soon.
Thiem is asked what he was thinking at 2-0 and 15-40 down in the third set: “I was already dealing with the loss, you know, it was first of all [my] first match against Nick on his favourite court, with an amazing crowd … there are easier things to do [laughs]. That’s for sure one of the tougher challenges we have in our sport, you never know what’s coming, he is a huge player when he is on fire like today. Honestly, I was dealing with the loss already but then somehow I was fighting myself into the match … since the US Open, I know that impossible is nothing.
“Giving up is never an option. There is always a chance. I was so close to losing it. If he breaks me in the first game of the third, the match is over. But I was fighting still, and with the break in the third, I realised maybe there was a chance to turn it around. I got more used to his game, and to the court, and to the great atmosphere, and the longer the match got, the more comfortable I felt.”
“I always prefer playing in front of a crowd, even if they are not for me … obviously they are for the local hero, there is nothing wrong with that, so I had to accept it, and I still prefer that way more than to play in front of an empty stadium. Unfortunately the next match will be empty, and I think everybody is really sad about it, but tonight was epic, a good last match before the lockdown.”
Thiem beats Kyrgios 3-2!
He’s done it! The final rally of a brilliant match sums it up, with Kyrgios finding a couple of booming forehands, but Thiem manages to stay in control of the point, and finally cracks a fine backhand down the line to end the resistance of his impressive opponent. The two men greet each other at the net, clearly with plenty of respect between the two men. Thiem looked utterly dejected and beaten at two sets and 15-40 down on his own serve in the third – but he got his serve going – and won out in the end.
Thiem takes the next point easily for 30-15, but Kyrgios isn’t done yet, and grinds out another point for 30-30 … But Thiem keeps the pressure on with yet another strong first serve, down the middle, and it’s match point Thiem. The noise of the crowd is increasingly deafening, even with the home hope seeming to be going down in a blaze of glory.
Three gynormous forehands by Kyrgios and he crushes Thiem into submission for 15-15. Possibly the biggest roar of the night emanates from the home crowd. They are willing their man to somehow find a break …
A comfortable hold for Kyrgios – yet again. Thiem will serve for the match. The new Covid-19 lockdown in Victoria, which is set to last for five days, begins in less than an hour and a half. But the show must go on at the tennis – albeit without the fans.
Another dominant backhand by Thiem and he holds serve to love yet again. It is 5-3. Thiem has held to love 11 times in this match. He really was on the ropes – and was nearly broken in the third set, at 15-40 down. But he seems to have found a way.
Swiatek and Ferro are 4-4 in the first set in their women’s singles match.
Djokovic, the world No1, is now two sets up on Fritz: 7-6, 6-4.
Thiem breaks! It’s 4-3 to the Austrian in the fifth. Kyrgios managed to save one break point but couldn’t save the next. Thiem seems to be starting to wear him down. Could that be the decisive game in this fifth set? Can Kyrgios raise himself for another huge effort?
A massive cross-court backhand by Thiem after a long rally and he has a break point. Kyrgios booms a superb wide serve, Thiem manages to get it back, Kyrgios rushes to the net, and Thiem misses a shot down the line for a break. Back to deuce. This is engrossing stuff.
Thiem crushes a looping forehand top-spin winner that catches the line – just – and it’s 30-30. A glimpse of a chance for the Austrian.
Kyrgios fires back, immediately, with a fantastic pass, but Thiem finds a lovely drop shot that his opponent can’t chase down, and it’s deuce, the first deuce game of the final set.
A brilliant serve-volley by Krygios. Thiem is standing a loooong way back on the Australian’s first serve, so the underarm serve – or a booming big first serve and then coming to the net – both seem to work well. The Australian takes the game and leads 3-2 in the fifth set. He continues to pick the odd verbal joust with the umpire.
In the women’s singles Ferro has fought back to 3-3 with Swiatek.
Djokovic is 4-3 up on Fritz in the second set of their men’s singles.
Someone in the crowd strikes up with an “Aussie Aussie Aussie!” to try and get their man going. Thiem wins with fourth set, awarded the final point for hindrance, after Kyrgios made a noise during the rally having thought he’d sent a shot long.
“So Azarenka’s grunt is fine, but that’s not fine?” objects Kyrgios to the umpire. That seems deeply odd, to bring Victoria Azarenka into it …
Anyway, it’s 2-2.