TURIN | One could have imagined Taylor Fritz proud of this journey to the semis of the ATP Finals and to have fought almost evenly against Novak Djokovic in this hard-fought match on Saturday.
Especially since the American was not even supposed to be there: he got his ticket to Turin at the last minute, due to Carlos Alcaraz's package. And he managed to extricate himself from the green group by defeating Rafael Nadal, then Félix Auger-Aliassime.
But it was rather with a long face that he sat down in front of the journalists, barely a few minutes after this loss of 7-6 (5) and 7-6 (6) conceded at the hands of the dominant Serb.
“It's not the best time for me to analyze this week well, because I'm extremely angry about this game, and even more because of things that happened during this game that were beyond my control,” he said. dropped the eighth favorite in Turin.
A full cry
The atmosphere was not however exalted in the stands of the Pala Alpitour for this semi-final. But a fan shouted on the point when the score was 5-4, 30-30 on Fritz's serve.
And that “thing”, which was beyond Fritz's control, was indeed this spectator in the stands, “[t]he person who tried to disturb me”, as the American called it.
If that was indeed the plan of the said spectator, it was successful. After the shout, the 25-year-old missed his backhand, which ended up in the net, giving Djokovic a break point.
The former world number 1, who s was broken early in this second set, was not going to miss such a great opportunity to catch up. “Djoko” won the game and then spun off with the tiebreaker match.
“But what can we do about it? Fritz wondered. If [the circuit] puts in a rule that allows the point to be replayed, then the guy is going to yell when I'm about to win it.”
“I don't know what to say, continued the American. I think that's what makes it even more frustrating. I kind of got screwed and there's nothing we can do […] We're not used to spectators shouting in order to disturb us.”
“When that happens to us, it's a shock. It’s disgusting,” he lamented.
A record to equal
But of course, this famous play which gave a crucial break point to Djokovic is not the only one which cost the victory to Fritz. He managed to save a match point in the ensuing tiebreaker, but on the second he sent his shot wide.
The seventh-seeded Serbian in Italy will therefore have the chance on Sunday to equal the record of six titles of the Swiss Roger Federer at this end-of-season championship.
Djokovic will face the winner of the clash between the Norwegian Casper Ruud (3) and Russian Andrey Rublev (6), which will be played Saturday around 3 p.m. Quebec time.
“Usually, I'm good at tiebreakers, analyzed the American. But in tennis, our room for maneuver is slim. It is always so. I just need to get a little better.”
“I [however] feel like I belong in this group. I proved that my place is in the top. I just have to keep working hard.”