Novak Djokovic: Two Keys To His Win over Taylor Fritz at the ATP Finals

Novak Djokovic in action at the ATP Finals.

Five-time former champion Novak Djokovic beat the USA’s Taylor Fritz 7-6 7-6 in the semifinals at the ATP Finals in Turin on Saturday after a closely fought match lasting an hour and 53 minutes. The 35-year-old Serb made it to final of the tournament for a record-equalling eighth time where he will seek to equal Roger Federer’s haul of six titles. But what were the keys to his win over the debutant Fritz.

#1 Djokovic edged an error-strewn first set:

Djokovic got the first break of the match in the fifth game of the first set as Fritz committed a rash of errors to all-but hand Djokovic the game. However, the American broke straight back in the next game after Djokovic made a few uncharacteristic errors himself. The set then went into a tiebreak with the Serb managing to prevail 7-5. Fritz tried to dominate with his big serve and powerful forehand, but despite landing some powerful blows was simply committing to many errors to get past a player of Djokovic’s quality.

The American ultimately committed 20 unforced errors against Djokovic’s 11 in the first set. Djokovic, meanwhile, maintained largely impeccable depth to deny the American the sort of short balls that he would put away with ease . The Serb also took the pace off the ball by playing backhand slices and by imparting more top-spin than usual to his forehand. That seemed to disrupt Fritz’s rhythm just enough for Djokovic to steal the opener.

#2. Fritz lets Djokovic off the hook

Fritz made the best possible start in the second set by breaking Djokovic in the very first game. He then held his serve to go 2-0 up. The American managed to maintain the lead till the 10th game of the set when he fell short trying to serve it out. The second set then also went to a tiebreak. Fritz managed to save one match point, but Djokovic held his nerve to seal the match after the American hammered a forehand wide into the tramlines.

Both players were able to cut down on the number of unforced errors in the second set, as Fritz finished the match with 30 against Djokovic’s 15. Despite his tendency to commit errors, it was the blistering first serve of Fritz that kept him in contention throughout the match as he fired 15 aces. But his second serve let him down, with Djokovic winning 65% of the points when Fritz was forced to turn to his second serve.

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