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Novak Djokovic comes through tough encounter with Taylor Fritz in Melbourne

Novak Djokovic is a step closer to another major (Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/AP)
Novak Djokovic is a step closer to another major (Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/AP)

Novak Djokovic fought off a strong challenge from Taylor Fritz to reach the Australian Open semi-finals for the 11th time.

The world number one has never lost in Melbourne once he has made it beyond the last eight, and there is no doubt how much he wants a 25th grand-slam title.

Djokovic had beaten American Fritz in all eight of their previous meetings but this was certainly not straightforward, with the top seed finally securing a 7-6 (3) 4-6 6-2 6-3 victory after three hours and 45 minutes.

The first game alone lasted 16 minutes and the first set 84 minutes as they toiled in the heat on Rod Laver Arena.

Fritz, looking to reach a slam semi-final for the first time at the third attempt, remarkably saved all 15 break points he faced in the opening two sets, and he impressively levelled the contest.

It was just the third set he had won against the Serbian, with the other two both coming in a third-round clash here in 2021, when Djokovic suffered an abdominal injury but still managed to win in five.

But Djokovic began to turn the screw in the third set as Fritz started to feel his left foot, and successive breaks in the fourth set him on the way to a record-extending 48th slam semi-final.

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic won again in Melbourne (Alessandra Tarantino/AP)

Speaking to Nick Kyrgios on court, Djokovic said: “I suffered a lot in the first couple of sets. Also due to his high quality tennis. He was really kind of suffocating me from the back of the court.

“It was really difficult to find the right timing, it was really hot while the sun was still out. We all know Taylor has got one of the best serves in the world. I knew the kind of a threat he poses when he serves on such a high quality.

“Conversion of the break points was really poor but I managed to break him when it mattered. I think I upped my game midway through the third set all the way through to the end.”