On Thursday at the Australian Open, Fritz was nowhere near the scoreline he envisioned, until Kevin Anderson provided him a window of opportunity. With the South African leading 6-4, 7-6 (5), 4-2 and holding game point on a usually reliable serve, Fritz essentially had one foot out the door. But after winning a 16-shot rally, the 29th seed was given new life when Anderson tightened by hitting successive double faults to get broken.
Fritz played his way back into the set, hitting half as many errors as Anderson. He continued to gain steam, as his ball-striking began to deflate the two-time major finalist. Over the final two sets, Fritz committed just four unforced errors and executed 17 winners to rally from two sets down for the second time in his career. The final scoreline: 4-6, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-2.
In the third round, Fritz will look to even his head-to-head record against world No. 5 Dominic Thiem to 2-2. Thiem also battled to win a five-set encounter over Alex Bolt earlier in the day.
The 2014 champion was five points from exiting, as well. Andreas Seppi served at 4-3, 40-30 in the fifth set against No. 15 seed Stan Wawrinka, before his three unforced errors allowed the Swiss to level the decider.
Wawrinka stormed to the finish line, ultimately winning 11 of the final 12 points to eke out a 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 victory in three hours and 38 minutes. The 34-year-old has a storied love-hate relationship with five-set matches in Melbourne, going 1-2 against Novak Djokovic, and losing a semifinal to countryman Roger Federer. He will battle No. 19 seed John Isner for a spot in the round of 16.
Russia’s Karen Khachanov needed four hours and 34 minutes to join Fritz and Wawrinka in the win column. The No. 16 seed failed to serve out his match with Mikael Ymer at 5-3 in the fifth, and later trailed 8-6 in the decisive tiebreaker. Four consecutive points propelled Khachanov to win, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (10-8).
Despite breaking into the Top 10 in July 2019, Khachanov did not manage to win a title throughout the season. The 23-year-old is aiming to reach the second week at the Happy Slam for the first time, and will need to knock out 23rd seed Nick Kyrgios to do so. The Australian held off Gilles Simon in four sets.