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Preview: Taylor Fritz vs. Novak Djokovic - prediction, head-to-head, tournament so far

Sports Mole previews Tuesday's US Open quarter-final between Taylor Fritz and Novak Djokovic, including predictions, head-to-head and their tournament so far.

Yet to drop a set on home soil in the US Open, Taylor Fritz - the highest-ranked American player left in the men's singles competition - seeks to quell the Novak Djokovic juggernaut in Tuesday's mouthwatering quarter-final.

The ninth seed overcame Switzerland's Dominic Stricker in three sets to reach the quarters, while Djokovic also secured a relatively straightforward success over Croatian qualifier Borna Gojo.

Match preview

Taylor Fritz reacts at the US Open on September 2, 2023© Reuters

Breezing into the fourth round with victories over Steve Johnson, Juan Pablo Varillas and Jakub Mensik - dropping just 13 games along the way - Fritz's mettle was somewhat tested to a greater extent against Swiss qualifier Stricker, who was competing in the last 16 of a Grand Slam for the very first time.

However, the 25-year-old gave the home crowd at the Louis Armstrong Stadium plenty to cheer about with a 7-6[2] 6-4 6-4 victory in just over two hours, working his venomous serve to great effect as he hit 17 aces and took three of the four break points on offer to him.

One final cross-court shot on the backhand side - a move which Fritz has become renowned for - proved too hot for Stricker to handle, as the American broke new ground by reaching the last eight of the US Open for the first time in his top-level career.

Only once before has Fritz managed to advance to the quarter-finals of a major tournament, as he progressed to the last eight of Wimbledon last year before going down in five sets to Rafael Nadal, while his previous bests at Flushing Meadows were third-round defeats in 2018 and 2020.

Should the ninth seed defy the odds and send Djokovic home empty-handed, his reward will be an all-American semi-final tie with either Frances Tiafoe or the up-and-coming Ben Shelton - which would also guarantee a home favourite in the final - but Fritz cannot dare to dream such lavish dreams just yet.

Novak Djokovic reacts at the US Open on August 30, 2023© Reuters

Unlike his upcoming foe, however, Djokovic cannot proudly claim to have qualified for the last eight without dropping a set, having been forced to come from a 2-0 deficit to overcome compatriot Laslo Djere in a five-set spectacular during the third round.

The 23-time Grand Slam winner enjoyed a more routine fourth-round victory over Croatian qualifier Gojo, though, taking two hours and 26 minutes to prevail 6-2 7-5 6-4 at Arthur Ashe Stadium, as Gojo's high-risk high-reward strategy failed to pay dividends.

The 6ft 5in Croatian - ranked 105th in the world - did best Djokovic on the winners count 40 to 26 and broke his serve early in the second set, but he hit an equal amount of unforced errors, while the clean-hitting second seed made just 12 such mistakes and coincidentally advanced with his 12th ace of the day on match point.

By advancing to a 13th quarter-final in New York, Djokovic has now drawn level with Roger Federer on 26 hard-court Grand Slam victories in the round of 16, and rather remarkably, the US Open remains the one Grand Slam event where he has never been knocked out in the last eight.

In fact, only one of Djokovic's last 16 appearances at major competition has ended in the quarter-final stage - a four-set French Open beating at the hands of Nadal last year - and Grand Slam title number 24 remains firmly in his sights ahead of an eighth showdown with a hopeful Fritz.

Tournament so far

Taylor Fritz:

First round: vs. Steve Johnson 6-2 6-1 6-2
Second round: vs. Juan Pablo Varillas 6-1 6-2 6-2
Third round: vs. Jakub Mensik 6-1 6-2 6-0
Round of 16: vs. Dominic Stricker 7-6[2] 6-4 6-4

Novak Djokovic:

First round: vs. Alexandre Muller 6-0 6-2 6-3
Second round: vs. Bernabe Zapata Miralles 6-4 6-1 6-1
Third round: vs. Laslo Djere 4-6 4-6 6-1 6-1 6-3
Round of 16: vs. Borna Gojo 6-2 7-5 6-4

Head To Head

Monte Carlo Masters (2019) - Last 16: Djokovic wins 6-3 6-0
Madrid Open (2019) - Second round: Djokovic wins 6-4 6-2
Australian Open (2021) - Third round: Djokovic wins 7-6[1] 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-2
Italian Open (2021) - Second round: Djokovic wins 6-3 7-6[5]
Paris Masters (2021) - Quarter-finals: Djokovic wins 6-4 6-3
ATP Finals (2022) - Semi-finals: Djokovic wins 7-6[5] 7-6[6]
Cincinnati Masters (2023) - Quarter-finals: Djokovic wins 6-0 6-4

Fritz and his fans may wish to overlook the American's head-to-head record against Djokovic, as from his seven tour-level meetings with the 23-time major winner, the American has lost all seven of them.

Six of those wins for Djokovic have been in straight sets, with the outlier being their memorable meeting in the third round of the 2021 Australian Open, where Fritz fought back from two sets down but ultimately lost in five.

That thrilling contest Down Under represents the only previous Grand Slam encounter between Fritz and Djokovic, who only a few weeks ago eased past the American in the quarter-finals of the Cincinnati Masters before his breathtaking win over Carlos Alcaraz in the showpiece event.

SM words green background

We say: Djokovic to win in three sets

Barring his scare against Djere in the third round, Djokovic has appeared as imperious as ever on the Flushing Meadows courts, and the 36-year-old's competitive record against Fritz certainly speaks for itself.

The Serbian has also won all four of his previous tie-breakers against Fritz, and while the California native might experience some joy if his cross-court shots find the mark, Djokovic should continue to haunt the nightmares of the world number nine and march on to the last four.

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