Indian Wells: Taylor Fritz continues where he left against Rafael Nadal
by JOVICA ILIC | VIEW 5260
Taylor Fritz secured his first Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells last year, toppling Rafael Nadal in the final. Despite a tough draw, the American made a winning start in the desert as the defending champion. Taylor faced the fellow American Ben Shelton and prevailed 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in an hour and 52 minutes for a place in the third round.
Fritz had to dig deep on Stadium 1 against one of the most formidable possible opponents in the opening match. Shelton barely lost a point behind the initial shot in the opener and stole Fritz's serve in the fifth game to make the difference.
Taylor raised his level in sets two and three and delivered two return games to emerge at the top and avoid an early setback. The better-ranked player fired 25 winners and 17 unforced errors, dropping only 14 points in 15 service games and keeping the pressure on the other side.
Ben stayed in touch in the shortest range up to four strokes thanks to almost 30 service winners.
Taylor Fritz took down Ben Shelton in the Indian Wells second round.
Taylor took charge in the mid-range and most extended rallies to emerge at the top and make a winning title defense.
Shelton fired a smash winner in the encounter's fourth game to level the score at 2-2 after 11 minutes. Fritz built a 40-0 lead in the fifth game but failed to bring it home. He wasted four game points and netted a forehand to experience a break point.
A left-handed seized it following a 26-stroke exchange and a smash winner at the net that sent him 3-2 in front. Ben held at love in game six to cement his lead and embraced a serve & volley combo at 4-3 for another perfect hold.
Shelton served for the set at 5-4 and held at 15 after forcing Fritz's mistake for 6-4 in 33 minutes. They barely lost a point behind the initial shot in the second set's opening five games to stay neck and neck. Shelton served at 4-5 and experienced the first troubles in his games.
Fritz cracked a strong return and forced the rival's mistake to create a set point. Ben netted a routine forehand at the net to lose serve and hand the set to his opponent. With a boost on his side, Taylor lost only a couple of points in his games in the decider.
Ben could not find the first serve and struggled on the second to experience one break and plague his chances. Shelton squandered a game point at 2-3 and missed a forehand to face a break point. He saved it but hit a forced error on the second to push Taylor 4-2 ahead.
The defending champion produced a fine hold in game seven and forced the opponent to serve to stay in the match. Ben saved a match point with a booming serve and brought the game home to extend the duel. However, Fritz held at 15 in game nine to seal the deal and pass a challenging obstacle.