To outplay Novak Djokovic at the US Open, you must ensure your first serve is spot-on and consistently lands within the boundaries

To outplay Novak Djokovic at the US Open, you must ensure your first serve is spot-on and consistently lands within the boundaries.

In his five appearances at Flushing Meadows, Djokovic has managed to secure victory in 64% of the points when facing his opponent's second serve.

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic

Having effortlessly dispatched the top-ranked American player in front of an enthusiastic New York audience, Novak Djokovic now enjoys the advantage of not having to compete in a daytime session at the US Open, as he advances to his historic 47th Grand Slam semifinal.

Despite the seemingly clear-cut scoreline of 6-1, 6-4, 6-4, it's worth noting that on a day characterized by sweltering humidity and temperatures soaring to 38 degrees Celsius, Taylor Fritz couldn't capitalize on the physical challenges that Djokovic has previously encountered in dry, hot conditions. Djokovic's resilience in such harsh climates was notably demonstrated in his recent epic three-set final against Carlos Alcaraz in Cincinnati.

Even though he holds the World No. 9 ranking, Taylor Fritz exhibited some inexperienced errors during his first-ever US Open quarterfinal. These mistakes were particularly noticeable when facing an opponent like Novak Djokovic, renowned for dismantling players who exhibit such vulnerabilities. Despite creating 12 break point opportunities, Fritz managed to convert only two, highlighting his inefficiency in critical moments. Additionally, his struggles with consistently landing his first serve, especially during pivotal points in the match, were glaringly evident throughout their encounter.

Fritz belongs to a group of up-and-coming American male tennis players, which includes Ben Shelton, who managed to defeat Frances Tiafoe in another quarterfinal match on Tuesday. These players have predominantly honed their skills on hard courts, emphasizing a style built on aggressive first-strike tennis, relying on powerful serves and forehands. However, when facing someone like Djokovic, widely regarded as one of the greatest returners in tennis history, these strengths tend to lose their edge. It's no surprise that Fritz currently holds an 0-8 losing record against Djokovic. To compound matters, struggling to consistently land their first serves only exacerbates the challenge they face.

In the initial set, Fritz inadvertently played right into Djokovic's strengths by managing to land less than half of his first serves successfully. The unfortunate outcome of this performance was that he couldn't secure a single game when serving. This trend persisted for a substantial part of the second and third sets as well, with Fritz maintaining his first-serve success rate at approximately 55%. Additionally, he faced a daunting challenge, losing a staggering 72% of the points during his second serve.

During his post-match press conference, Fritz candidly analyzed his disappointing loss by stating, "Clearly, facing Novak, he has this uncanny ability to make me feel like my serving performance is below par. However, in other matchups, I might not face such severe consequences for missing a significant number of first serves. I could possibly escape with it, but when playing against him, I need to maintain a first serve success rate above 50% and target my spots more accurately. That's just the nature of competing against him."

"It's not exactly rocket science here. I can't realistically hope to defeat him or even stay competitive if he keeps feasting on my second serves or if my first serves consistently land right in his wheelhouse," he emphasized.

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