Seeking a 17th-straight Australian Open victory, World No. 3 Roger Federer will take on 21-year-old rising American Taylor Fritz, who is making his debut third-round appearance in Melbourne.
For those in the United States looking to watch, the match is scheduled to start Thursday around 9 p.m. ET (after the conclusion of Barty vs Sakkari). It’s taking place before the regular ESPN2 broadcast starts for the night, so it won’t be on TV, but you can watch the entire match live on your computer, phone or streaming device via ESPN+, the new digital streaming service from ESPN (no cable subscription necessary) that will have coverage of all non-televised 2019 Australian Open matches.
You can sign up for a free seven-day trial of ESPN+ right here, and you can then watch a live stream of Federer vs Fritz on your computer via ESPN.com, or on your phone (Android and iPhone compatible), tablet, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, PlayStation 4, Xbox One or other compatible streaming device via the ESPN app.
Federer vs Fritz Preview
Prior to the start of the tournament, Fritz had zero career wins in the Australian Open main draw. Now, just five days into the tournament he gets a matchup against a man who has 96 career victories, 14 semifinal appearances in the last 15 years and six titles at Melbourne Park.
Life comes at you fast.
While it’s pretty much just another match for Federer, who is looking to become the first men’s player ever to win seven Australian Open titles (No. 1 Novak Djokovic also has that opportunity), it stands as probably the biggest moment of Fritz’s young career. Still, he has remained composed.
“I have all the time to celebrate after the tournament’s over,” Fritz said after earning his first two career Australian Open wins. “For me, I’m just going to have to go play my game, be aggressive, take care of what I can take care of. I know if I do my thing and I play well, I think I can have a good match with (Federer).”
Much like other tall Americans, Fritz’s strengths come from his serve and big forehand. In his wins over Cameron Norrie and Gael Monfils, he tallied 30 aces, won 69.9 percent of his service points and smashed 89 winners. More impressive, though, has been the youngster’s ability to keep it cool during the most tense moments–he has saved 17 of 19 break points and won three of four tiebreaks.
On the flip side, Federer, of course, does everything well, though it’s worth noting his return game hasn’t quite been up to his lofty standards early in this tournament. He has won 37 percent of the return points in each match, but he’s only been able to convert 35.7 percent (5-of-14) of his break-point opportunities, which is well below his 2018 mark of 41.9 percent.
Of course, Federer’s service game is still pretty much impossible to stop–he faced zero break points against Denis Istomin, and the fact that he was broken once against Daniel Evans was a bit of a surprise–but at the very least there could be a chance for Fritz to force some tiebreakers with his serve.
In the lone previous meeting between these two at Stuttgart (grass) in 2016, Fritz played Federer tough and was able to take a set before ultimately falling, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4. In that one, Federer actually faced more break points (9 to 4), but he was able to save all but one while breaking Fritz twice.
Put it all together, and while this matchup is certainly lopsided in terms of experience and accomplishments, it actually stands as a potentially compelling battle with one chasing (more) history, and the other looking for the biggest victory of his career.
“‘Fed,’ obviously, my whole life growing up, he was always the best, winning everything,” Fritz said. “So it’s really cool being able to step on the court with him again.”
The winner will play either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Nikoloz Basilashvili in the fourth round.
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