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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Monday March 13, 2023

Novak Djokovic wasn’t able to play Indian Wells due to American regulations barring those who are not vaccinated against Covid 19 from entering the country until May 11. But the 22-time major champion is still a big part of the conversation in the press room.

Tennis Express

On Monday at Indian Wells, a reporter asked top American Taylor Fritz, who the best baseliner in the sport was.

No doubt about that one, says the World No.5.

When it comes to the art of being a baseliner, Fritz says World No.1 Djokovic is the best there is…

“Tough not to say Novak,” the Southern California native said. “He's so strong off of both sides. Also so fast, as well, it's very tough to hurt him, to get it past him. If you're too safe, then he can also kind of push you around and dictate you as well.

“There's a lot of guys that are great from the baseline. Kind of just depending on the day. But I feel like I do have to say Novak, for sure.”

In a different press conference on a different day, 19th-ranked American Tommy Paul was asked what it was like to face Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open, and what lessons he was able to take away.

His response?

It’s crazy, what he does.

“It's a pretty crazy level, definitely,” Paul said. “I think he just handles every situation, every moment in massive matches so well. I mean, if I want to be where I want to be, I know that's something I'm going to have to get a lot better at, and something I'm working on big time – I think mentally he's the best in the game.

“That's where you see the difference in those matches at least. I think that's where most of the difference was in that match. You say, ‘Oh, the only difference was mentality? Or like his mental game was better? But that's big. It was like 7-5, 6-1, 6-1 or something. It was all mental, I think.”