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Ricky’s pick for the Cincinnati quarterfinal between Djokovic and Fritz

The marquee quarterfinal matchup at the Western & Southern Open on Friday pits Novak Djokovic against Taylor Fritz. Here is my preview and pick for the showdown.

Novak Djokovic is back in the United States for the first time following a lengthy travel ban kept him sidelined due to his failure to meet Covid-19 vaccine requirements. With the vaccine mandate having finally been lifted prior to this, Djokovic is once again a main attraction at the Western & Southern Open. He will play the U.S. Open, as well, for the first time since 2021.

Djokovic has not played much tennis this week, so perhaps he is still rusty. The 36-year-old Serb got a retirement from Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who was plagued by a lower-back injury. Djokovic also made quick work of third-round opponent Gael Monfils, posting a 19th consecutive win over the Frenchman via a 6-3, 6-2 rout.

Up next for him is Taylor Fritz, who is also winless against Djokovic. However, Fritz has only suffered six losses–not 19–and has been particularly competitive in three of their last four meetings.

The ninth-ranked American has been in awesome form this summer, including a title in Atlanta. This promises to a competitive contest, with only a slight edge going to Djokovic.

Pick: Djokovic in 3

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.