Masters Turin 2022 – The cheat sheet: Even a “small” Novak Djokovic was too big for Taylor Fritz

Why and how

It was not the best match of his career, nor of the season, and not even of the week. But Novak Djokovic has, as almost always, found the way out. In the aftermath of his grueling fight against Daniil Medvedev, the best player in the world (despite what the ATP rankings tell us) appeared sometimes borrowed in this semi-final against Taylor Fritz. No one will blame him.

But the great strength of the Serb is elsewhere in this context. Even when he is not totally on his plate, or even frankly off on certain sequences, he retains this ability to raise his level of play when it matters most. In this case, Saturday, he released the big game in the two tie-break ends. There, on two-three exchanges, we found the indestructible Djoko in “killer” mode and Taylor Fritz is going on vacation on a well-known feeling of frustration.

Faced with this Djokovic, the opponent feels that there is something to do. That it is “taken”. But when you have to drive the point home, like in this second act where it was used for the set, the hill opposite becomes a mountain again, everything is again more complicated and the story ends badly.

Morality, a half-fig half-grape Djoko, like the one on Saturday, is much easier to hang, but just as difficult to knock over. For “Nole”, it is a victory with the head and the heart more than with the arms and the legs. But what does it matter? In the end, he wins. This issue, Fritz probably felt it coming, but with the monster of Belgrade, prevention is not cure. Knowing is not enough. On arrival, even if the match was particularly tight, there was something inexorable here.

An improbable angle and Djokovic snatches the tie-break from Fritz: the set point on video

The key moment

Both games at 5-3 and 5-4 in the second set. After an entry break, Taylor Fritz raced in the lead without shaking on his entry. Then, at 5-3, he led 0-30 on Novak Djokovic’s serve. Perhaps you then thought like us: it is better to finish now so as not to have to serve for the gain of the set.

The following ? Djokovic held his face-off, delivered a pressure blow in return and in the exchange on Fritz’s service and pushed the American to the fault. As much as he doesn’t have much to reproach himself for in the two tie-breaks where the Serb really started another mode, as much there, he can curse himself. That might not have been enough to make him the winner of that half, but Fritz would have had the wind at his back going into the deciding set.

The point of the game

Of the week, even, perhaps well. A crazy, crazy, crazy exchange at 5-4 Djokovic in the second tie-break and a Taylor Fritz that we imagine cracking in the (ultra) long line. But no. He will be fine. But it also says a lot about the miracles that the winner of Indian Wells had to perform to resist in these decisive games. He also paid for it from the next point and if Djokovic spoiled this first match point, he constantly pushed his opponent to the limit in “money time”.

Tournament highlights! Fritz will have at least won this battle against Djokovic

The stat: 35%

It was to be feared and it did not miss. Taylor Fritz, big server in front of the eternal, suffered behind his second ball, with only 35% of points won (9 out of 26). In this area, he was clearly dominated, Djokovic finishing him with a remarkable success rate (61%).

If the two players were each broken twice, this fragility exposed the American in the hottest moments, like when he served to return to a set everywhere for example. In a duel in two decisive games like this, everything is played on details and this sector of the game will have constituted an enormous detail…

The statement: Novak Djokovic

I had to fight to survive today. I didn’t feel very responsive, nor very comfortable. I knew that after the exhausting battle against Medvedev yesterday, I would need time to adjust and find the right dynamic, especially on the return, against Fritz who is one of the best servers on the circuit.

Djokovic cracks Fritz and goes to the final: the match point on video

The question: Can Djokovic still really lose this Masters?

We had mentioned it here even before this semi-final, never Novak Djokovic had faced such light adversity on paper in a last four at the Masters. It is no disrespect to the trio Fritz – Rublev – Ruud to say this. The opposition is always strong at the Masters, but last year, to win, it was necessary to chain Zverev then Medvedev. It was something else. Not to mention the years when Federer and/or Nadal or even Murray were against him.

One can even wonder if he did not do the hardest part by dismissing Taylor Fritz on Saturday. Not that he is inherently superior to Rublev or Ruud, but on the very fast coating of the Pala Alpitour and given the proximity to the mad fight against Daniil Medvedev the day before, there was a potential danger not to be overlooked for ” Nola”. The scenario of this semi-final therefore resembled what one could imagine, and the Serb had to tighten the game perhaps even more than he would have had to do in another context.

‘The strongest, the most complete, the most feared’: why Djokovic is still the boss

So, maybe we’ll look very silly on Sunday night, but if Djokovic doesn’t suffer an even bigger physical backlash in the final, it’s hard to imagine he could miss the chance to match. finally Roger Federer’s title record. Unless that prospect blocks him (but impossible to compare what’s on the table in Turin versus the 2021 US Open final where he was buried under the weight of the possible Grand Slam), he really has it all. for him.

He has one game left to play and win and Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev are clients. As a bonus, they will have nothing to lose. The first could capitalize on the experience of his two finals at Roland-Garros and New York, the second remember that he is one of the rare to beat Djokovic in 2022. But the Djoko of autumn is no longer that of spring and the confrontation between the two men this week is enough to testify to it. To sum up, Novak Djokovic has ten possible paths ahead of him. Nine lead to the title. It’s up to him not to make a mistake to miss a solid golden opportunity to put an end to his misfortunes of recent editions.

Djokovic ended up suffocating Rublev: the highlights of his victory

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