Novak Djokovic faces three Americans in the bottom half of the tournament at US Open 2023. In the quarterfinals, the 23-time Grand Slam winner will face Taylor Fritz (No. 9), and in the semifinals he will face Frances Tiafoe (No. 10) or Ben Shelton.
The Joker was warmly welcomed in New York in the opening rounds of the tournament after a year away due to vaccinations, but the Serbian now doubts that the winds may be changing.
However, the reckless Djokovic also said that it did not bother him much, which the past has already shown. “We are in America and I am playing against local champions,” the 36-year-old said. “I would be surprised if it were different, frankly.”
Djokovic ‘prepares for anything’
He knew exactly what was coming and was “mentally prepared for anything.” The fact that three Americans made it to the quarterfinals is a positive. “This is important for this tournament, one of the four major tournaments, and one of the biggest events in the history of this sport,” he said.
In the three-set win over Jojo, Djokovic also showed his emotional side when he once pointed towards the penalty area and hit his chest hard. Joker later explained that he wanted to signal to his entourage not to lose focus.
“They keep me sharp and I keep them sharp,” he said afterward. As a matter of knowledge, he also asked his team to continue focusing on this issue during the match.
Djokovic allows himself to coach in the match
“They don’t ask me for anything else,” he admitted. “And in the heat of the moment, one word or another comes up.”
As of this year, coaching is permitted in the round between competitions if a player plays on his side of his own penalty area. “Then I also try to communicate, which is not always very effective or easy, but fundamentally it helps,” Djokovic said.
“It helps me when I’m out of rhythm on a serve or something. Then I look up and hope for some advice, a little help and I usually get that.”
McEnroe hopes to gain US support
Dijoker has an impeccable 7-0 winning record against Fritz – the American urgently needs the support of his fans, says tennis legend John McEnroe in an interview Eurosport. “I mean: we haven’t won here in 20 years!” he said.
Fritz’s only chance against Djokovic is to hope for a bad day for the Serbs.
“He’s got to hope he’s not at his best physically, maybe if the heat gets to him,” McEnroe said. The match between the two teams is scheduled to take place in the afternoon.
Fritz, Tiafoe and Shelton push each other
For American tennis, there is a “growing problem” of no local professional winning the US Open title since Andy Roddick in 2003. “There’s a lot of talk about it. And guys are getting close to it again,” he said.
“For Fritz, the quarter-final against Djokovic is the most important match of his career because he has never reached a Grand Slam semi-final. Tiafoe played brilliantly last year and Shilton has the most development potential of the three. But it is important for this American “Tennis has great results again,” he said.
So it’s good that Fritz, Tiafoe and Chilton are pushing each other. “I think they understand more and more what it means to be at the top of their sport. But they’re not there yet,” he said.
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