In a couple of hours, Federer and Fritz will begin their third round match in Rod Laver Arena. This is Fritz’s first match on any one of the major’s stadium courts. Hell, he’s coming-off a four-set win over Monfils and set to play Federer in the third round of the Australian Open. Great for American tennis. Couple this with Tiafoe’s win over Anderson and we have a couple of interesting story-lines that hopefully develop further during the 2019 season.
As for Federer v Fritz tonight, one has to be on a bit of an upset alert only because of the obvious context — 37 years-old, which doesn’t wear ideally on a professional tennis player (just think of the last major, where Federer, looking decent and on a collision course with Djokovic there in NYC, fell to Millman in the R16), Fritz’s form and Fritz’s coach. Fritz has beaten Isner and Monfils already this year, so his confidence has to be emboldened.
The Isner match was perhaps the first bit of tennis I really watched in 2019. Fritz, who had shown a bit of this strength and resistance last year against decent opponents, was able to read Big John’s serve pretty well there in Aukland, get some of those back with interest and basically take control of most points in the rally. He’s hitting the ball well from both wings though his FH appears to be that typical juicy strike that many of the youngsters have, to go along with that typical (preferably) bigger serve. And Fritz has a big serve.
So he could be a handful for Federer tonight. Especially with Annacone offering-up some decent bits of strategy and sport experience that weighs big in a bout like this; he may know Federer’s game better than anyone. How? Because he coached him for years and has become one of the better analysts in the sport.
As for the idea that Alex de Minaur might challenge Nadal, they did meet at Wimbledon 2018 where Rafa handed the young Aussie a 1 2 and 4 spanking. Remember?
The winner gets Berdych or Schwartzman. Lol.
Tsitsipas has jumped-out to 5-2 lead on Basilashvili in the first set (I need to stop writing and go watch . . .)
Eager to see how RBA v Khachanov goes and definitely want to see Dimitrov build some confidence.
Cilic v Verdasco and Nadal v de Minaur are much later tonight here on the west coast.