Novak Djokovic remained on track for a record-breaking sixth ATP Tour Finals title after beating Taylor Fritz 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (8/6) in Turin on Saturday.
Djokovic shrugged off an unpleasant meeting with Daniil Medvedev the day before and took the lead in the semi-final against the ninth-seeded American.
The 35-year-old Serb will face the winner of the second semi-final between Andrey Rublev and Kasper Ruud.
A victory in Sunday’s final would put him on par with Roger Federer, who has six victories in a tournament that features eight of the world’s best players this season.
“I had to fight to survive,” said Djokovic, who has reached the final of the season finals eight times already and last won in 2015.
“I didn’t feel very reactive or very comfortable. I knew that after yesterday’s grueling battle with Medvedev before today’s match, it would take me some time to adjust and find the dynamic movement I needed against Fritz, who is one of the best servers. on Tour.
Djokovic has beaten the 25-year-old Fritz in all six meetings.
“I am extremely upset with the match, especially with the things that happen in the match that I can’t control,” said the American, who played for the first time at the Masters tournament, taking advantage of the withdrawal of world number one Carlos Alcaraz.
“But I’m sure that in two weeks I’ll look back and say yes, like it was a really great week.
“Not only did I get the chance to play in the World Tour final, I made it out of the group, got two good victories.
“I think my conclusion is that when Novak played, he was the best player.
“There is no doubt about that. When he wasn’t playing, which is most of the year, we saw a lot of different results, because if you take him out of the equation, I think everyone else playing is very close in level.
“There are 15 to 20 people who can beat each other on any given day, given the circumstances. This is the reason for many of these different results, the victories of different people. It’s just the way it happens.”
Djokovic will be aiming for his second major title of the year since Wimbledon, having missed significant portions of the season, including the Australian Open and the US Open, due to his failure of the coronavirus vaccine.
The Serbian held on largely due to the efficiency of his serve – he scored 85 percent of the points played on the first serve in the first set and 75 percent throughout the match, as well as the ability to land a killing blow at the right time.
Fritz didn’t make many mistakes, but they were all heavily penalized.
Djokovic is chasing his fifth league title of the season after Rome, Wimbledon, Tel Aviv and Astana and now has a career record of 45-17 in the ATP finals he won in 2008 in Shanghai and in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 in London).
“I am very excited about the opportunity to compete for another big trophy, one of the biggest in our sport,” said Djokovic.
“Hopefully I can play at the same level that I’ve played in most matches this week and get the trophy.”