Fixture: (1) Novak Djokovic vs Taylor Fritz
Date: 12 February 2021
Tournament: Australian Open 2021
Round: Third round (Round of 32)
Venue: Melbourne, Australia
Category: Grand Slam
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: AUD $80 million
Live telecast: USA - ESPN / Tennis Channel | India - Sony Six
Novak Djokovic vs Taylor Fritz preview
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has had a solid start to the year, winning four singles matches in a row. Two of those wins came at the ATP Cup earlier this month, right before the Serb began his Australian Open title defence.
Djokovic's campaign in Melbourne began with a straight-sets victory over Jeremy Chardy, where he did not concede a break point. But his second-round clash against Frances Tiafoe was considerably harder.
The American took one set off the top seed, while also converting two out of three break points. However, Djokovic had enough in his tank to win in four sets, with a 6-3, 6-7(3), 7-6(2), 6-3 scoreline.
American youngster Taylor Fritz, meanwhile, has had tough opponents in his first two matches at the Australian Open. The 23-year-old locked horns with Spain's Albert Ramos Vinolas in his opener, which he won 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(6).
Fritz then faced off against compatriot Reilly Opelka in an intense five-setter. He fought back from two sets to one down before winning 4-6, 7-6(6), 6-7(4), 7-6(5), 6-2.
Fritz has now made it to the third round of the Australian Open three years in a row.
Novak Djokovic vs Taylor Fritz head-to-head
Novak Djokovic and Taylor Fritz have faced off on tour twice before, with the Serb leading the head-to-head 2-0.
Their first meeting was at the Monte Carlo Masters in 2019, where Djokovic clinched a comprehensive 6-3, 6-0 win. The 33-year-old then doubled his lead at the Madrid Masters that same year, beating Fritz 6-4, 6-2.
The duo have not locked horns on a hardcourt yet.
Novak Djokovic vs Taylor Fritz prediction
While Novak Djokovic has not yet found his best at the 2021 Australian Open, he's done enough to remain the tournament favorite. Djokovic smacked 26 aces against Tiafoe, while also winning 84% of the points on his first serve.
While his break point conversion rate was concerning - he won just five out of 14 - the Serb was able to find his best in the clutch moments of the final set.
Taylor Fritz, with his powerful groundstrokes, will certainly be a challenge for Djokovic. The American has a solid serve, which he will be hoping is at its best against the World No. 1 on Friday.
All things considered, however, Djokovic is likely to see off the Fritz challenge comfortably.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic to win in straight sets.