Taylor Fritz almost didn’t make the final at Indian Wells, having hurt his ankle during his tough semifinal with Andrey Rublev, powering through the “worst pain imaginable” to book his final spot on Sunday against legend Rafael Nadal.
Fritz chalked up his “incredibl[e] stubborn[ness]” to going against his trainer and coaches to fight on to clinch his first Masters 1000 title near his California hometown, breaking Rafa’s 20-match winning streak in straight sets, including a tight tie break at the end, 6-3, 7-6(5).
"This is seriously like a childhood dream come true, like a wild dream you never expect to actually happen,” Taylor Fritz said, according to ATP.
“It really hasn't even sunk in." The remarkable feat was Fritz’s first Big 3 win in nine tries. Both he and Nadal were dealing with injuries, with the Spaniard playing through what looked like pectoral muscle pain.
However, it didn’t diminish from the American’s accomplishment, who impressed all week long, fighting intense battles like the three setter over Alex de Minaur in the Round of 16. A big moment for American men’s tennis With the win at Indian Wells, the 24-year-old Taylor Fritz became the first American since Andre Agassi in 2001 to win the tournament (when Fritz was three).
As the top ranked American man, he will lead the way, breaking into the Top 15 (as the new No.
13) for the first time, with his (very realistic) sights on pushing forward to Top 10 this year.
"I don't want to get ahead of myself.
I want to take things one step at a time," Fritz continued. "My goal for the last couple months has been Top 10. This obviously helps a lot to put me closer to that goal. That's going to remain the goal for now, Top 10”.
Expect big things The Indian Wells title comes three years after he achieved his first breakthrough trophy at Eastbourne. The Rancho Sante Fe native credited a change in his game to his renewed confidence, including retooling his forehand, which bolstered his strong serve while capitalizing on the big points in the match.
This is especially made all the difference in converting all four tie breaks Fritz faced during the tournament.
"Since the last edition of this tournament, it's been the forehand that's really been clicking for me.Don’t be surprised if the new world No. 13 uses his breakthrough victory as a launching pad for more celebrated wins. The California Masters event tends to be a great predicter, as it did when Naomi Osaka won in 2018 and Bianca Andreescu shocked everyone with her maiden title there the very next year—both players extended the winning streak to a first major at the U.S.
Just being able to unload and trust it. It used to be a shot that would just misfire, almost lose me matches. Now it's like I can trust it no matter what to really pull the trigger on a big point, get extra free points."
Taylor Fritz got to the semis at Indian Wells last October (when it was rescheduled due to COVID) and has been on a high-achieving streak since, with a winning stretch of 26-8 since that time.
His winning record among Top 20 players has only gotten better and he’s sure to be a factor once Flushing Meadows rolls around.
Taylor Fritz has said he plans to play the second half of the ‘Sunshine Double’ Master event, in Miami, despite the ankle injury.
DID YOU KNOW❓@Taylor_Fritz97 is now 5-0 against Top 10 players at Indian Wells.
No. 7 Cilic (2R in '17)
d. No. 7 Berrettini (3R in '21)
d. No. 4 Zverev (QFs in '21)
d. No. 7 Rublev (SFs in '22)
d. No. 4 Nadal (F in '22)
Fritz is also 6-0 vs Top 20 players at Indian Wells. — TENNIS (@Tennis) March 21, 2022
However, even if he takes time off to heal, he is likely to be one of the top contenders for a major at Flushing Meadows this fall. And just like that, Taylor Fritz could keep surprising us.