Novak Djokovic Survives Five-Set Thriller to Advance at Australian Open
Novak Djokovic gave up a two-set lead before finally putting Taylor Fritz away in the fifth set in their third-round matchup at the Australian Open on Friday. But the No. 1 seed may not be able to continue in the tournament after suffering a torn muscle during the third set of that encounter.
Djokovic won the match 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 6-2, putting away Fritz with a gutty effort in the final set.
Djokovic Hangs on After Apparent Muscle Tear
The 17-time Grand Slam champion faced a tough challenge from Fritz, but looked to be in control after winning two tight sets to start the match. But Djokovic slipped on the surface while trying to change direction in the third. His left foot gave out from under him, and he took a medical timeout to try and recover.
“I know it’s a tear, definitely, of the muscle. So I don’t know if I’ll manage to recover from that in less than two days,” Djokovic said afterwards. “I don’t know if I’m going to step out onto the court or not. I am just very proud of this achievement tonight. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.”
Unless the injury worsens, Fritz suggested that the defending champion could still play in his current state. Djokovic will face Milos Raonic in the fourth round on Sunday.
“If he can play like he played in the fifth, I don’t see why he wouldn’t play,” Fritz said after the match. “He’ll beat pretty much anyone.”
Friday night marked the last time – at least for now – that fans could watch matches live at Melbourne Park. Fans left the arena at about 11:30 pm local time, as a COVID-19 lockdown began at midnight in the state of Victoria. The state government has mandated a five-day lockdown because of an increase in coronavirus cases there.
Lockdown Comes to Australian Open
Nick Kyrgios put on a show for the Australian Open fans before the exited the grounds. The 25-year-old Australian started strong, building a two-set lead against No. 2 seed Dominic Thiem. But as it has so many times before, Kyrgios’ temper got the best of him, and Thiem rebounded to win the final three sets and walk away with a 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory.
“This was a good last match before the lockdown,” Thiem said afterwards. “It’s really sad to say.”
|Australian Open Odds – Saturday Matches (via FanDuel Sportsbook)|
|No. 25 Karolina Muchova: +120||No. 6 Karolina Pliskova: -142|
|No. 28 Filip Krajinovic: +1000||No. 4 Daniil Medvedev: -1500|
|No. 11 Belinda Bencic: +290||No. 18 Elise Mertens: -360|
|No. 1 Ashleigh Barty: -310||No. 29 Ekaterina Alexandrova: +250|
|No. 19 Karen Khachanov: +178||No. 9 Matteo Berrettini: -210|
Diego Schwartzman became the highest-seeded man eliminated from the Australian Open so far, as the No. 8 seed lost in straight sets to qualifier Aslan Karatsev, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. The top women all advanced on Friday, with Simony Halep, Naomi Osaka, and Serena Williams winning in straight sets.
Third-round play continues on Saturday. No. 1 seed Ashleigh Barty takes on No. 29 Ekaterina Alexandrova, with the Australian coming in as a -310 favorite at FanDuel Sportsbook. Men’s No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal (-3500) faces off against Cameron Norrie (+1600), while No. 4 Daniil Medvedev (-1500) faces No. 28 Filip Krajinovic (+1000).