Taylor Fritz had just broken the world No.1, Novak Djokovic, to take the lead in the fourth set of the match before play was suspended.
With the state of Victoria entering into a circuit-breaker lockdown that would commence at 11:59 pm on Friday night, fans were asked to leave the Rod Laver Arena in the interest of public safety and government restrictions.
With the break in play coming at a crucial point in the match, both players left the court with the score at 7-6(1) 6-4 3-6 2-3 until fans had vacated the stadium.
The world number one and 8 time AO champion is injured, down a break in the fourth set and fans are getting kicked out of the arena because lockdown begins in 30 minutes at midnight. What a world. pic.twitter.com/mAG4JFKZTr— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) February 12, 2021
Returning to an eerie Rod Laver Arena play got underway again shortly after and although Fritz was able to draw level with the defending champion, Djokovic held on to claim the deciding fifth set and win the match 7-6(1) 6-4 3-6 4-6 6-2.
“We heard the bad news today, and we knew that the lockdown was going to start at midnight and its definitely not great for the crowd who wanted to be there,” the world No.1 said following the match.
“Mentally and emotionally, I feel great huge relief to pull this one through in these kind of conditions.”
“The fight I was in was a one of a kind match definitely one of the best moments I have had in my career.”
After going two sets up against his opponent, the world No.1 slipped during the third set of the match, suffering what looked like a nasty strain, and called for a medical time out.
Evo trenutka kada se Novak povredio. pic.twitter.com/zFumyQq8z7— Saša Ozmo (@ozmo_sasa) February 12, 2021
“In the third and fourth sets, I just served, I couldn’t do much on the return, I was just going for my shots, hitting two first serves and it worked.”
“The way it felt, I was really strongly debating retiring.”
“I know it’s a tear definitely of the muscle,” said the Serbian.
After troubling the world No.1 to force a tiebreak in the opening set, Fritz came back from two sets down to smash 17 winners past Djokovic to win the third set. He then broke the world No.1 again early on in the fourth to pull level at two sets apiece.
Although Djokovic hung on to swing momentum back onto Fritz, to claim a late double break in the dying embers of the match.
“This is definitely one of the more special wins in my life under these kinds of circumstances to pull this through.”
Although the world No.1 admitted that he was “worried” about his injury and was sceptical whether he would play again in the tournament.
Djokovic will advance to take on 14th seed Milos Raonic in the fourth round.
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