Crowds were told to leave the stadium as the game continued past midnight and Melbourne’s five-day lockdown went into effect.
While the 33-year-old Djokovic had enough in the tank to defeat world No.31 Fritz, the world No.1 admitted after the match that he might not be able to recover from the abdominal injury he he suffered before facing Milos Raonic in the next round on Sunday.
“Right now I know it’s a tear … I don’t know if I’ll be able to get over it in less than two days,” Djokovic said of the injury that hampered his movement in second part of the match.
“I don’t know if I’ll go out on the pitch or not. I’m very proud of this achievement tonight, let’s see what happens tomorrow.”
Djokovic took the straight-set lead against great player Fritz before the game’s momentum changed.
The Serb had to leave court for treatment as 23-year-old Fritz won the next two sets to level the contest.
But Djokovic mustered enough strength to win the final set and let out a roar of relief when he converted a match point.
“It is without a doubt one of the most special victories of my life, no matter the round and the opponents, in these kinds of circumstances I will be remembered forever,” he added. in his post-game interview.
The second five-set encounter of the day after Dominic Thiem’s comeback win over Nick Kyrgios, Djokovic and Fritz ended the game in an empty Rod Laver Arena as spectators were forced to leave before Melbourne’s quarantine.
Victoria state locks down from Saturday in a bid to curb the spread of a more contagious variant of the virus, although the Australian Open has been allowed to continue in the absence of fans.
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