February 10, 2021
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
T. FRITZ/R. Opelka
1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 .
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Congratulations on your match today. Obviously it was a very tough and long match. Talk us through how you were able to turn that match around from 5-1 down in the fourth set tiebreaker.
TAYLOR FRITZ: You know, I don't really know. I was so upset with some of the points I played in that breaker and then also so upset at what happened to my serve when I tried to serve out the set. I don't know how I was able to turn it around. I think I just made a good return at 5-1, got that point, knew that if I can just somehow find a way to win both on my serve, it's 4-5, and I had a good feeling of where he was going to serve at 4-5 and at 5-all. More so at 5-all. I had a really good feeling he was going to serve wide.
And so I kind of just went with my intuition, grinded out the two points on my serve, and, I mean, I got lucky; I guessed right on both of his serves at 4-5 and 5-all, and yeah, somehow won the set.
Q. I just wanted to ask you if you could describe the size of the challenge that awaits you in the next round against Novak, what you think it will take to beat him and maybe what the most difficult aspect of that match will be?
TAYLOR FRITZ: Yeah, it's Novak. And it's Novak here at the Australian Open. But for me, I'm just going to have to play my best tennis. Luckily for me and my game, I possess the ability if I'm on, I can serve well enough to where I won't get broken and I can be extremely aggressive on the ground strokes and I can kind of take control if I'm on. I just have to do everything I possibly can in the next couple days to give myself the best chance of playing my best tennis.
I'm eight hours -- basically eight hours on court between my first two rounds. It's been a lot of tennis played for my first and second rounds. Just got to make sure I'm feeling as good as possible to give myself the best chance to play my best.
Q. In that fourth set tiebreaker, that seemed to be sort of a key and where things switched into your favor. What in your mind made the difference there at that point when the match was a couple points from being over?
TAYLOR FRITZ: Winning that 1-5 point was huge because then -- 1-5 sounds bad, but it's really only two points down on serve. You know, I win that 1-5 point, now I'm only one point down on serve, and if I can just win those two points on my serve, pressure is back to him. I just need to win one of the next two on his serve, and we're kind of back to even in the breaker.
I said this before, I had a really good feeling of where he was going to serve at 4-5 and especially at 5-all. I just had a really good feeling at 5-all he was going wide, and on the second serve I had a really good feeling he was going to go wide and serve-and-volley. I got lucky; I guessed right. I guessed right, I hit good shots, I hit good returns and somehow was able to pull it back. I really don't know how.
When I won the set, I was more just like -- I couldn't believe I won the set because I thought -- I did think it was over for sure, but it didn't stop me from trying.
Q. How much of that "good guessing," to use your words, would you attribute to knowing Riley as well as you do and having played as much as you have?
TAYLOR FRITZ: To be honest, none of it, really. I've never been able to pick up on his serve. I think more so it was just how the match today was going. Those serves seemed to be his higher percentage serves, and they seemed to be working for him a lot, so it was kind of an educated guess that he would go to it under pressure.
Q. Could I ask you to look ahead to what's next and how you sort of view it? Is it an opportunity? Is it, gee, I wish I didn't have to play the eight-time champion?
TAYLOR FRITZ: It's just another chance to prove myself. I keep making third rounds and I keep having extremely tough opponents in the third round, but that's what happens when you're a 25 to 32 seed. You're guaranteed to play a top-eight player. This is my third year in a row in the third round here in the Australian Open, and my third round opponents have been Roger, Dominic and now Novak. It's just another chance to prove myself. I've got nothing to lose, and I'm going to go out and I'm going to have a lot of fun and I'm going to play extremely aggressive tennis and see what I can do.
Q. On Novak, as well, you've obviously played him twice before in Monte Carlo and Madrid; what you've learned from those encounters and what you'll take into Friday's match?
TAYLOR FRITZ: Yeah, the biggest things for those two matches, especially Monte Carlo, it was windy and it was hard for me to pinpoint my spots. I had to play with more margin, and that's definitely not something I can get away with when I'm playing him.
Madrid, a bit of altitude, a bit faster, I was able to attack more and play more aggressive and had a bit of a closer match. I just know what to expect and I know what I need to do, and I know that even though I lost the last two matches pretty handily, I know that now we are playing on a fast hard court, which suits my game more than anything else.
Q. ATP Cup is a very successful tournament. I know obviously this year America didn't qualify to play, but in the future would you love to be part of this competition?
TAYLOR FRITZ: Yeah, I played ATP Cup last year and it was a lot of fun. It's unfortunate that they had to shorten up the field so much so there's less teams and we didn't make the cut. It's unfortunate. Hopefully myself or one of the other Americans has a really good year and we can make sure we qualify next year.
Q. Just wanted to ask you whether you were surprised to be the only seeded man from the U.S. this year at the Australian Open. It had been a while since there was only one.
TAYLOR FRITZ: Well, I pay attention to the rankings, so when John said he wasn't coming it wasn't that much of a surprise to me, just knowing the rankings. It is what it is. Riley was very close to being seeded. It's super unfortunate that we just played each other in the second round. That's an extremely tough second round as a seed.
But yeah, it's only because John decided not to come, not because of -- I don't know, not because of any other reason. Yeah, so that's it.
Q. How optimistic are you that this current generation, it's got a bunch of guys around the same age, you're pals off the court, too, but this group, you, we saw Francis up against Novak today, Tommy, Riley, that somebody in that group can sort of make the breakthrough at a Grand Slam.
TAYLOR FRITZ: A hundred percent. I'm very confident in it. I think a lot of the -- some of the guys our age are very like fully developed and playing incredible tennis. I don't think any of us are anywhere near our full potential or full level. I think me, I think Riley, Francis and Tommy, especially those three guys are so far away from where they're going to be, so I think it's just a matter of time for all of us. Maybe we're just developing just a little bit later than some of the other guys our age.
But I think we all have so many improvements to be made, and I know we're all working extremely hard, so I think time will tell. We'll know in a couple years what happens. But I think that there's a lot of potential in this group.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports