Fritz Saves 2 MPs, Upsets Zverev To Reach Indian Wells SFs

Taylor Fritz’s breakthrough run continued Friday at the BNP Paribas Open as he saved two match points to earn his second Top 5 win of his career and reach his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final.

The American rallied from a 2-5 down in the decider and saved two match points at 3-5, 30/40 and 4-5, 30/40 to upset World No. 4 Alexander Zverev 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(3) after two hours and 22 minutes in Indian Wells.

“I was really down and out but I found a way to put myself into it,” Fritz said in his on-court interview. “I really wanted to make him have to close me out and I was able to get back into the match. Normally you would be so nervous in those situations and in the third set tie-break, but I felt so confident being aggressive, going after my game. It feels really great to play well with the pressure on.”

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The 31st seed, who recorded straight-set wins over Nitto ATP Finals hopefuls Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner en route to his maiden Masters 1000 quarter-final, played aggressive tennis against Zverev, firing 36 winners to advance.

Fritz now trails Zverev 2-3 in their ATP Head2Head series and will face Nikoloz Basilashvili in the last four after the Georgian overcame second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 to reach his maiden Masters 1000 semi-final.

“The biggest thing was match point down, I wanted to make him serve it out, so I just fought as hard as I could to hold that game,” Fritz said. “Then I got fortunate in his service game and from there I felt in control and felt really good under the pressure.

“It is amazing. Especially the way that match ended with such high emotions with the crowd. The crowd was amazing and it is a dream come true.”

The Californian resident is making his fifth appearance in Indian Wells, with his previous best result a run to the fourth round in 2018. Fritz’s only other Top 5 win came against then-World No. 5 Dominic Thiem at the Laver Cup in 2019.

The 23-year-old has reached semi-finals in Doha, Cagliari and Los Cabos. Fritz will try to avenge his Doha defeat to Basilashvili when they meet on Saturday.

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After breaks were exchanged at the start of the first set, with Zverev double-faulting to drop serve, the German began to take control with his consistent deep groundstrokes. The World No. 4 committed just six unforced errors in the set to move ahead.

Fritz altered his tactics in the second set and started to play aggressively as he blasted 13 winners from all areas of the court, overpowering Zverev to march 4-1 ahead. After Fritz sealed the set on his serve, Zverev regained momentum in the decider as he continued to soak up the 31st seed’s power. The American’s level slightly dipped in the third set and after Zverev broke early, he was able to put his foot down and roar into a 5-2 lead.

However, the German’s second serve abandoned him when he was trying to serve out the match. Zverev struck two double faults as Fritz broke back. After moving to a tie-break, the American found his best tennis to prevail in a tight match.

Zverev was aiming to win his third ATP Masters 1000 title of the season in Indian Wells, having triumphed in Madrid and Cincinnati earlier this year. The German entered the match in strong form after winning 20 of his past 21 matches on hard courts.

Fritz Fires Past Sinner To Reach Indian Wells QFs

Taylor Fritz is turning into a conqueror of Italians this year in Indian Wells .

One day after upsetting Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini, the American defeated 10th seed Jannik Sinner 6-4, 6-3 on Wednesday to reach the BNP Paribas Open quarter-finals. The American is into the last eight at an ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time.

Fritz saved two break points when he served out the match, including one in a lung-busting rally, which he punctuated with a fist pump after Sinner mishit a forehand well out. Then on his first match point, the World No. 39 crushed a backhand winner up the line and let out a cathartic roar as he threw his arms in the air.

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Not only is this the 23-year-old’s best result of the season, but he has advanced through the draw decisively. Fritz has not lost a set, and none of the six sets he has played has gone further than 6-4.

The 2019 Eastbourne titlist will next play third seed Alexander Zverev or 14th seed Gael Monfils. He will try to reach his fifth tour-level semi-final of the season.

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Fritz and Sinner are both big-hitting baseliners who like to control the action. And it was the home favourite who was able to stay on the baseline and remain calm under pressure, saving five of the eight break points he faced.

The California-native prevented Sinner from making his second Masters 1000 quarter-final of the season. The Italian, who only won 48 per cent of his service points against Fritz, beat John Millman in the second round and in the third round received a walkover from John Isner, who rushed home to attend to the birth of his third child.

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Gamers: Fritz On Night Time Studying & His FIFA Pursuit

Taylor Fritz upset fifth seed Matteo Berrettini on Tuesday to reach the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open. The American will face 10th seed Jannik Sinner on Wednesday for a place in the Indian Wells quarter-finals.

ATPTour.com caught up with Fritz before the match to learn about his passion for video games, how he plays on the road and more.

When do you remember first getting into video games?
I was always into video games. Probably my first video game ever was one of those Pokemon games on the Gameboy when I was a kid. But then I think I really got into it when I found out that you could play online against other people. Just the idea of competition like that, I mean that’s what I love about sports so much, the competition.

When I was a kid that was the most entertaining thing to me, going up against somebody else. So when I found out I could go on Xbox with my friends and play Call of Duty at night against other people and talk [smack] to them while doing it, it was really fun for me. So I think that probably happened around sixth or seventh grade.

I’d come home from school every day and tell my parents I did my homework and get on Xbox with my friends and play Call of Duty. I think that’s where it started for me, probably. We would do zombies, we would do multiplayer, we would do everything. I just think once it got to the point where I could actually play with people and against people, that’s when it really peaked my interest a lot.

If you had to pick your three favourite games, what would they be?
It’d be easier to say of all time. So at the peak of the game I enjoyed it the most, probably the first couple of months that Fortnite was out is pretty unbeatable. Just the friends hopping on and stuff. Then, probably Call of Duty Black Ops 2 I played a lot of. I loved that game. And then, as a kid I also played a lot of World of Warcraft. I’d say that’s up there for me, too.

At what point did it become more of a serious thing and not just having fun with friends?
I mean, it still is. That’s what it is. I just became better at it from doing it a lot and me just being the competitive person that I am. Whatever game I’m playing, I’m always watching better people play, I’m studying what they’re doing.

When I’m in bed going to sleep, I’ll watch videos and such to try to get that little extra that might make me better at the game. I’ll do stuff like that and I just got better at certain games though playing and learning and watching. So it’s still just fun for me, but it’s just nice that I can play in some of these events and compete with good players.

What are you best at right now?
Probably Apex Legends, it’s a pretty popular game right now. I’d say that’s probably my best game right now. But the best I’ve ever been at a game for sure was FIFA. I got injured back in 2016, 2017. It was FIFA 17 at the time and I played that game so much when I was injured, I studied it so much and practised so much, I got to Top 100 in North America.

That was the first year they had rankings in FIFA, they had a ranking system, so I got really into it that year because I was really motivated to try and get on the leaderboard.

Do you care about soccer besides FIFA, or do you just like the video game?
FIFA helped get me into soccer. I like watching soccer, it’s probably my second-favourite sport to watch.

When did you start carrying stuff with you on the road?
It’s changed a lot throughout the years. Now, I’ve realised the easiest way to do it is just to bring a gaming PC, plug a controller into it, and then I’ve got my screen, my console. Everything is all together. It’s very easy to do that. Now there’s crossplay, so if you’re on a computer you can play with people on PlayStation and Xbox.

Back a while ago you couldn’t do that, so I would bring a PlayStation so I could still play with all of my friends. I’d pack the PlayStation — it was a slim PlayStation — in my backpack, and then I’d put a 24-inch monitor, the screen, into my suitcase. Then maybe I’d put the stand for the monitor in my tennis bag. To be honest, it was pretty easy. It seems like a lot, but it was pretty easy to bring it week-to-week. But now it’s so easy, I just bring a gaming laptop, put it in my backpack and that’s it.

So it takes no time to even set up?
It’s literally just taking out a laptop and putting in a charger, maybe plugging in a mouse, plugging in a controller, but nothing crazy.

How much does it help you get away a little bit from tennis?
It definitely helps me to not be bored. Especially when last year we had a lot of tournaments where we couldn’t leave the room, you were just kind of killing time. In weeks where we’re in a cool city and my friends are there, I won’t take out the games much at all, because I’ll have stuff to do.

It definitely just helps if I’m bored. And obviously after practices I’m tired, so I don’t really want to go out and do stuff. It’s kind of just something to do in the room that can be fun.

How much of a respect do you have for all of these e-sport athletes?
A lot. I like to watch e-sports a lot, I love watching competitive play. It’s amazing how good these guys are at a lot of these games, and they really work at it and I can’t imagine it’s even fun at that point when you’re doing it that much. People probably look at tennis and are like ‘Oh, it’s so fun’ but practising four or five hours a day is not fun.

You do something so much, once it becomes a profession, you’re working at it so much, it’s not that much fun anymore (laughs). So these guys, I have a lot of respect for how hard they work to become so good at it.

You got involved in an e-sports team. What can you tell me about that?
I’m just part of a company that owns a Call of Duty league team, the London Ravens, and then Rogue, which is a big e-sports organisation across many different games. They have the top team in Europe for League of Legends, which is the biggest e-sport in the world right now, so I’m excited to watch them. They’re in the World Championships and it’s starting really soon, so I’ll be watching that.

Is it interesting to see from a business perspective, seeing all aspects of the whole e-sports business?
Yeah, it’s awesome. A lot of my friends at home in Los Angeles are people that are involved in the gaming industry, so I’m pretty tied into it. It’s been really cool meeting a lot of these people and understanding the ins and outs of the industry and it’s something I’ve always been interested in.

How big of a setup do you have at home?
I got a whole thing at home, it’s nice. That’s the one thing about travelling, I’ll be on the road and I’ll be playing on my laptop. It’s a smaller screen, not great internet, it’s just not the same. It’s always nice to go home. I just have a desk with a nice PC, a really solid PC, and two big screens. It’s just really nice, I love coming home.

It’s your video game corner…
Yeah, I’ve got a little game room. I definitely want to improve it even more, but it’s a lot so I think I’m gonna wait until I move again and then I’m going to really go big on it.

Fritz Takes Down Berrettini, Advances To Fourth Round

Taylor Fritz earned his biggest win of the year Tuesday at the BNP Paribas Open, easing past Matteo Berrettini 6-4, 6-3 in front of his home crowd to reach the fourth round.

The California native, who was 2-6 in his past eight matches heading into Indian Wells, gained his first win against a Top-10 opponent in 2021 and the seventh of his career in the 81-minute encounter.

“We’re coming to the end of the year, I could really use a big result,” said Fritz in his on-court interview. “This is just what I needed, playing one of my favourite tournaments close to home.”

Fritz held a 5-1 lead in the first set, surviving a Berrettini comeback by breaking to love in the final game. A break in the fourth game of the second set proved enough to take the match in straight sets against a frustrated and off-form Berrettini.

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“I had a really clear strategy on top of just doing what I do,” said Fritz. “Big first serves, attacking the first ball, trying to be aggressive and play to my strengths to try and make him uncomfortable as much as I could.”

The World No. 5 saved four match points to extend the second set, but Fritz maintained his composure to hold serve in the following game. Fritz broke the Italian’s serve five times, winning 48 per cent (27/56) of return points.

Fritz denied Berrettini the chance to continue his Nitto ATP Finals qualification campaign this week, with the Italian sixth in the FedEX ATP Race to Turin. The 31st seed now leads their ATP Head2Head 2-0.

Up next for Fritz is another Italian, Jannik Sinner. The 20-year-old is also chasing a spot in the Nitto ATP Finals, sitting 10th in the Race.

Nainkin On Fritz: 'He Believes He Can Beat Anybody'

American Taylor Fritz advanced to the third round of the BNP Paribas Open for the third time on Sunday when he defeated countryman Brandon Nakashima.

The 23-year-old is hoping to make his mark in the California desert after a tough season during which he suffered a freak knee injury at Roland Garros that required surgery.

ATPTour.com spoke to one of Fritz’s coaches, David Nainkin, about his charge’s season, competitive spirit, overthinking on court, FIFA and more.

From Taylor’s freak injury at Roland Garros to rushing back for Wimbledon and everything else, how do you see how the year has gone?
The French Open to Wimbledon was tough. I thought that he did as well as he could have at Wimbledon. The summer’s been probably below-par for him. He hasn’t done as well as he thought. Even going back to San Diego, that was disappointing for him last week. Losing to a good Jenson Brooksby at the US Open, that was a great match.

Taylor is probably not the marked man anymore. He is one of a lot of good young American tennis players. There are seven of them inside the Top 44 in the Race, it’s all bunched up. I think it’s great for American tennis, you have so many guys vying for the top spot who can do well and [especially] now with the Big Three not being here.

But since the US Open, we had three great weeks of training. He’s in a really good place with his game. He’s been practising well and I think he’s in a good place going into the next five weeks of tournaments.

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You mentioned the young Americans. For any competitor, you want to be the marked guy. But on the other hand, the rise of Brooksby, Korda and Nakashima is motivation. How do you view the dynamic?
I think the more young American guys we have who are playing against each other and beating each other, the better for them, because they can all push each other. The higher the level they can push each other, the more they’re going to push each other. We’d like to see some rivalries between these guys playing each other in the quarters, semis of a Grand Slam. That’s really going to push them where one of them becomes a star.

I don’t think it’s a surprise. These guys haven’t come out of the blue between Jenson and Sebi and Brandon. There have been no surprises. They all know each other well. I wouldn’t say it’s unexpected.

In 2016 Taylor was named the ATP Star of Tomorrow presented by Emirates. Five years later, how different is he as a person and a player?
He’s the same person. He’s one of the best competitors I’ve seen and his game has actually evolved and improved. I don’t think he’s any different. He obviously got up there pretty quickly, and it’s been a battle over the past three or four years trying to break into the Top 20, Top 15. He’s kind of bumped his head a little bit in the third round of majors. I’d say that’s been the biggest hurdle for him, that he hasn’t really gotten through that.

Pre-Covid, he lost in the final of Acapulco against Nadal, had started to do a little better each year. A goal for this year was for him to make the second week of a Slam and he didn’t. There are two [ATP Masters] 1000s left and three or four Tour events… But he’s the same guy. He loves tennis, he wants to win and maybe at times wants to win too much.

With a little more experience, you have memories and a little more baggage in your brain and stuff to reflect on. Moving up that year, like every young guy, everything is new and you’re for sure swinging out a little bit more with reckless abandon. Is he playing with a little more caution at times now? Probably.

He’s always been very competitive. How difficult is it for someone like that when you don’t achieve a goal like reaching the second week of a major?
It’s disappointing, because you do set goals and that’s always disappointing when you don’t reach them. It is what it is, those are the facts. The competitive side, you can’t teach it. I think it’s part of your DNA.

Taylor plays Matteo Berrettini in the next round here in Indian Wells. To what extent is every week a big opportunity for him to earn that one big win that could propel him upwards?
He prepares as well as he can for every week. Indian Wells is a massive opportunity for him. He believes he can beat anybody in the draw and I’m not just saying that. He truly does believe that. He certainly has the game style to do that and we know how in tennis, things change very quickly. Maybe he felt the pressure the past couple years, but he is in a good space and he wants to win and is prepared.

A few years ago you told me how he is constantly thinking on the court. Is there a danger in thinking too much on the tennis court?
There can be, but he has the ability to process a lot of information, more than a lot of other players. And he maybe will overthink a strategy, and that can hurt you, saving certain shots for certain points and really getting ahead of yourself. You keep it really simple, play your game style. He can sometimes get away from that because he overthinks his strategy. We try to bring him back.

I’ll give an example. He says, ‘Then I’ll become too predictable’. I said, ‘That’s okay’. Being good is sometimes being predictable, even if the guy knows you’re doing what you’re going to do, keep doing it if it’s a winning strategy. Brilliance is boring.

What’s your favourite thing about Taylor off the court?
He’s a loyal guy. He doesn’t blame anybody. He takes full responsibility for everything he does. He’s well-behaved. It goes a long way when you talk about our industry. He takes everything on himself and he’s got a strong character. He’s an honourable guy.

Do you have any examples of his competitive spirit off the court?
He’s broken a few remote controls playing FIFA (laughs). I think when he was playing FIFA, he was trying to get into the Top 100 in the world and that took days off his life. The competitive side goes everywhere. Now he plays golf. That’s coming along. We hope he doesn’t get too caught up in the golf, but it’s good he likes to play golf.

Is it good that he has so many hobbies to take his mind off tennis?
I think so. He’s got good friends, a great physio and he’s always busy. He’s a smart guy. He’s involved in some businesses and investments. That is always good, I think.

Fritz Dominates On Serve To Reach San Diego Second Round

Taylor Fritz has shaken off determined qualifier Salvatore Caruso in straight sets to reach the opening round of the San Diego Open on Monday night.

The 23-year-old American relished the chance to compete in his home state of California and clinched the first-time ATP Head2Head meeting against the Italian 6-4, 7-6(2). In impressive night on serve, Fritz dropped just one point from 35 on his first serve, which included 10 aces.

He also won 59 per cent on second serves and never faced a break point in the one-hour, 44-minute encounter. Victory set a second-round meeting with fourth seed Denis Shapovalov.

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“I didn’t feel like I was in any danger of getting broken. I was serving well in the first set, it was just getting that break and second set… I played a really good tie-break,” Fritz said.

“I played tournaments every weekend growing up here so it’s awesome to be back home. After a couple of weeks off after the [US] Open, it feels really good to have a solid match, play well.”

The American secured the only break of the match to grab the first set. Both men were rock solid on serve throughout the second set, but in the ensuing tie-break there was no denying Fritz as he quickly surged to 5/0 before he advanced on his second match point to join compatriot Brandon Nakashima in the second round.

“I was hitting my spots really well,” Fritz said. “I have days where my service percentage is pretty good but I don’t necessarily hit my spots and my serve’s coming back, but I hit my spots really well today and backed it up really well when the serves came back.”

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