Novak Djokovic has shrugged off stifling heat and Taylor Fritz once again to breeze into a record 47th grand slam semi-final at the US Open.
Djokovic’s 6-1 6-4 6-4 quarter-final victory was his eighth win from as many meetings with Fritz and keeps the Serb on course for a fourth Flushing Meadows crown that would have him match Margaret Court’s record haul of 24 singles slams.
With temperatures once again nudging towards 38 C, Djokovic turned in a cool, clinical effort, improving his record against the American to a perfect 12-0.
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The 36-year-old will also eclipse Roger Federer’s 46 grand slam semi-final appearances when he faces off with 10th seed Frances Tiafoe or Ben Shelton, who meet in an all-American clash on Arthur Ashe later on Tuesday.
“It’s expected of course that people are backing the home player and there is nothing wrong with that,” said Djokovic. “I actually like the energy, like the atmosphere on centre court here.
“Day sessions, night sessions, people are getting into it.
“I’m fine with that. I thrive on that energy and try to use it as a fuel.
“I’ve been playing on this court for so many years, so many epic matches, I can’t wait for another one in a few days time.”
As well as losing all seven previous career meetings with Djokovic, Fritz had never beaten a top-10 opponent at a grand slam, but he rolled into the quarter-finals in hot form.
He was the only player to not drop a set and was broken only once in 50 service games.
But he could not keep the party going, although the 25-year-old had his opportunities. He could convert only two of 12 break chances while committing 51 unforced errors, almost double his opponent’s 26.
As Djokovic powered away, tennis journalist Jose Morgado noticed the crowd was becoming “very agitated”, with some fans turning against the Serbian superstar.
And there was one moment in particular that caused Djokovic to lose his cool with a fan in the stands.
Fritz started to offer up more resistance and with Djokovic serving at deuce and leading 4-3 in the third set, a fan was heard yelling “out” during a rally.
Fritz won the point as a furious Djokovic turned to the crowd and yelled.
“He was actually in the box where some of my friends were,” Djokovic explained after the match about the incident.
“I don’t know who the guy was; but yeah, I was pretty annoyed by him at that point.
“I was communicating with my friends to have a little chat with him.
“I’m actually glad the crowd wants to get into it, because it means the match is interesting, that they want to be part of it, that they’re having fun.
“At the end of the day, they pay to come and watch you play, so we try to put on a show.
“Sometimes (they) might have an interaction with the player, like this guy. I’m sorry for him, but he was really annoying at that point.”
Fritz could not find a way back, with Djokovic getting the decisive break at 5-4 and then holding serve – improving his record to 13-0 in US Open quarterfinals.
– With Joel Martelli
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