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Djokovic gets past Fritz in two tiebreakers to reach Nitto ATP Finals championship match

Novak Djokovic beats Taylor Fritz in the semis of the Nitto ATP Finals on Saturday. Djokovic will battle either Casper Ruud over Andrey Rublev for the title.

Novak Djokovic Nitto ATP Finals Turin 2022 Novak Djokovic Nitto ATP Finals Turin 2022 || AI/Reuters/Panoramic
Nitto ATP Finals •Semi-final • completed
See draw

For the first time since 2018, Novak Djokovic is back in the Nitto ATP Finals championship match.

Djokovic won Saturday’s first semi-final inside Turin’s Pala Alpitour, holding off Taylor Fritz 7-6(5), 7-6(6) after one hour and 54 minutes. The Serb awaits either Casper Ruud or Andrey Rublev in Sunday’s final.

Up-and-down first set ends in style for Djokovic

Djokovic gave back an early break with some uncharacteristic mistakes and as a result had to play his fourth tiebreaker of the week. The 35-year-old had outlasted Daniil Medvedev in a final-set ‘breaker on Friday and he once again came up with the goods when it mattered most against Fritz.

Trailing 4-5 but on serve, Djokovic delivered two clutch service points and then struck at 6-5 by winning a long rally with a perfect down-the-line forehand.

Djokovic comes back from 5-3 down in the second

Just as Medvedev served for the match at 5-4 in the third set on Friday, Fritz served for the second set at 5-4 on Saturday. However, the ninth-ranked American could not get across the line. He dumped an easy backhand in the net at 30-30 and Djokovic promptly converted break point.

In the ensuing tiebreaker, Djokovic squandered a match point on his own serve at 6-5. But on his second chance with Fritz serving at 6-7, Djokovic capitalized when he put a return in play and his opponent followed with a forehand well wide of the mark.

“I had to fight to survive,” the 21-time Grand Slam champion commented. “I didn’t feel very reactive today; I didn’t feel very comfortable. Coming into today’s match from yesterday’s grueling battle against Medvedev, I knew that it would probably take me some time to adjust and find the dynamic movement that I need against Fritz, who is one of the best servers on the tour.

“I had to be very patient. I didn’t start the second set very well but managed to break his serve at 5-4 In those moments I find another gear and managed to hold my nerves. I made him play an extra shot in the tiebreak. I’m very pleased to overcome this one because it wasn’t one of my best days in terms of tennis.”

Djokovic aiming for sixth title

Djokovic has won the Nitto ATP Finals five times but hasn’t lifted the trophy since 2015. Either Ruud or Rublev will stand in his way after they contest Saturday’s second semi-final during the night session.

“I am very much motivated and hungry,” Djokovic assured. “It’s one match left. I’ll give it all tomorrow and hopefully I can win.”

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