ATP Paris Masters Quarterfinal: Novak Djokovic vs Taylor Fritz Preview

Novak Djokovic US Open

Gael Monfils withdrew from his Round of 16 clash against Novak Djokovic at the ATP Paris Masters just hours before the contest on Thursday. The 35-year-old Frenchman suffered a groin strain during his Round 2 match against compatriot Adrian Mannarino.

Eventually Monfils, who didn’t feel 100% fit, took a rational decision to pull out of his contest against Djokovic, thereby handing the No.1 seed a walkover.

ATP Paris Masters Quarterfinals

The 34-year-old Serb will now take on an in-form Taylor Fritz in the quarterfinal on Friday. In his Round of 16 clash on Thursday, Fritz dominated Indian Wells Masters Champion Cameron Norrie from start to finish. The 24-year-old American defeated the No.1 Brit 6-3 7-6(3) in one hour and 33 minutes.

Fritz has been in tremendous form since the beginning of Indian Wells Masters. He conquered some of the top names in the game like Matteo Berrettini, Jannik Sinner, and Alexander Zverev in his semifinal showing in the Californian desert. He went a step further in his next assignment, reaching the final of the St. Petersburg Open last week.

After beating Andrey Rublev and Norrie in straight sets in back-to-back matches in Paris, Fritz is on a high as he prepares to lock horns against Djokovic.

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Novak Djokovic vs Taylor Fritz

Djokovic leads Fritz 4-0 so far on the ATP Tour. In their only clash on hard courts, Fritz pushed Djokovic to his limits, stretching the Serb to five sets at the 2021 Australian Open. The then-17-time Grand Slam champion eventually prevailed over an inspired Fritz 7-6(1) 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-2 in their third-round encounter.

Two of the most important features of Fritz’s game are his serve and forehand. When he gets these elements right, he seems to roll. Against Djokovic, one of the best returners on tour, Fritz’s serving will be put under stern test.

Djokovic made his much-awaited return in his tournament opener against Marton Fucsovics. His game appeared to be tentative and scratchy against the 29-year-old Hungarian. Fritz, who is in sizzling form and riding high confidence, must emphasize putting Djokovic under immediate pressure by being offensive. Of late, Djokovic has been more tentative at the start of matches. Fritz should exploit this weakness to gain an early advantage in the contest.

Djokovic is eyeing his sixth Paris Masters title and a record-breaking 37th Masters 1000 overall this week. Taylor Fritz is comfortable and confident in exchanging long baseline rallies. But Djokovic must aim to outsmart his opponent by mixing things up, employing drop shots, and approaching the net often to keep the points short.

Having received a walkover against Monfils, Djokovic will be well-rested and raring to go against Fritz, hoping to gather some steam ahead of the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin. On the other hand, Fritz has recorded three wins in as many matches against Top 10 players within the last month. Those exceptional performances should give the young American a lot of confidence as he prepares to embrace the ultimate test against Djokovic.

Can Djokovic tame an in-form Fritz to clinch his seventh Paris Masters semifinal berth? Or will Fritz, continuing his rise as a giant-killer, upset the 20-time Grand Slam champion?

An intriguing matchup between veteran Djokovic and young and exuberant Fritz awaits us on quarterfinal Friday in the French capital.

Main Photo from Getty.

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