By: Aaron Xiong
Defending a Grand Slam title is never easy in the tennis world. You have tough competition every round these days and the pressure mounts as the tournament gets closer. For the second consecutive match, reigning champ Novak Djokovic played a thrilling match against a young American. In his third round, he faced off against Taylor Fritz in a 5 set epic.
After taking the first two sets with ease against the American, Djokovic looked poised to finish the match in straight sets. However, Fritz found a spark and kicked his game into second gear and took the third and fourth sets respectively. With a booming serve and forehand, the American was looking to make a comeback to take the fifth and deciding set.
Despite winning the third and fourth sets, Taylor Fritz’s energy had seemingly decreased as he loss the match in five excruciating sets. In a sport where you must be able to play for 4-5 hours at a time, being in shape and fit is super important and that’s what separates the top players from the field. Although Djokovic appeared to be injured, he was still able to pull out the win despite dropping the third and fourth sets. Djokovic finished with 15 aces to Fritz’s 24 and won 157 of the 312 total points played, winning the match [7-6(7-1), 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2]. In what was a narrow victory, Djokovic hopes to play his fourth round match despite a slight muscle tear.
Other day 5 actions saw the Australian favorite Nick Kyrgios taking on world number 3 and 2020 Australian Open finalist, Dominic Thiem on John Cain Arena. Kyrigos who is known for his fiery and unpredictable behavior, seemed locked in and focused as he stepped onto the court. Locked and loaded, the Australian quickly broke the serve of the world number 3 and took the first set 6-4.
Thiem had seemingly looked out of rhythm as Kyrgios fed off of the Australian crowd’s energy and looked to be defeated before the match was even close to being over. Kyrgios dominated the second set as he did the first winning it six games to four as well. The difficult thing about men’s Grand Slam matches, is that the matches are best of 5 sets. Although Kyrgios had the momentum heading into the third set, Thiem found a second wind and pulled off a Houdini escape.
The Austrian seemingly didn’t want to go away. He claimed the third and fourth sets 6-3 and 6-4 and was looking to make a successful comeback to head into the fourth round. Despite the crowd favoring Kyrgios, Thiem shut out the noise and pulled off the comeback in remarkable fashion. He took the deciding fifth set after breaking the Australian’s serve. With match point at 5-4 40-30, the rally for the match was breathtaking with Thiem finally winning the match with a backhand winner down line to pull off the comeback. Thiem won the match [4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4] and will face Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round.
Other matches on day 5 saw Serena Williams escape young Russian Anastasia Potapova in straight sets [7-6(7-5), 6-2]. 2019 champion Naomi Osaka also took to the court with a win over Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur in straight sets [6-3, 6-2].
Day 6 action begins tonight around 7:15pm CST with world number 4 Daniil Medvedev playing on Rod Laver Arena against Serbia’s Fillip Krajinovic.