On paper, it seems like a pretty one-sided contest, and it may very well turn out to be so. But to understand the kind of challenge a largely unknown journeyman such as Fratangelo may pose to the top seed, it is pertinent to know the man who has been named after the great Bjorn Borg.
Fratangelo is a former French Open boys’ singles champion. He may not have made it to the elite level of men’s tennis, but he has been a top 100 player. Though he mostly plies his trade at the Challenger level, he has had some great scalps, including that of his compatriot Sam Querrey in 2016, the year in which he cracked the top 100 in the world.
But there is one important reason to believe that his match against Djokovic need not necessarily be a one-sided affair. The two have met once before, here at the same round. Though Djokovic won that match, it went the distance and Fratangelo gave the Serb a mighty scare by pocketing the first set 6-2.
Also, while Djokovic has not played since his epic Australian Open victory and may be a bit rusty, Fratangelo has no such worries as he has played a lot of matches, including at the Indian Wells where he came through the qualifiers and won his first-round match.
In the qualifying round, he got the better of some really good players, including Andrey Rublev. And in his first round match against Elias Ymer, he was in top form, especially with his serve. He won 68% of his first serve points and a whopping 78% of his second serve points.
He will have to continue to play that well and hope that the Serbian is a bit rusty coming into this match. That is possibly the only way the American may have a semblance of a chance against the World No. 1.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic to win in Straight SetsPublished 09 Mar 2019, 16:27 IST