World no. 20 Taylor Fritz claimed his first Masters 1000 title in front of the home fans in Indian Wells. The California native toppled a 21-time Major champion Rafael Nadal 6-3, 7-6 in two hours and six minutes, lifting a notable trophy and delivering Nadal's first loss in 2022.
Rafa fractured his rib in the semi-final but wanted to play for the title. A three-time champion gave his best but missed his chances in the second set and finished with the runner-up prize. Thus, Taylor became the first American winner of a Masters 1000 title since John Isner in Miami 2018 and the first in the desert since Andre Agassi in 2001!
Rafa was far from his best, and Taylor felt the same! He injured his ankle in the semi-final closing stages against Andrey Rublev and did not know how his body would react in the final. Still, he was determined to give his everything against a 21-time Major winner and fight for the crown in front of the home crowd.
Taylor won ten points more than Rafa and fended off eight out of ten break chances. Two breaks were not enough to keep Nadal safe, as he got broken four times from nine opportunities offered to his young opponent. They had a similar number of winners, and the American tamed his strokes nicely to stay on 22 unforced errors while the Spaniard sprayed 34.
Taylor forced Rafa's backhand error on the fourth break chance in the encounter's opening game for an early advantage.
Taylor Fritz defeated Rafael Nadal in the Indian Wells final.
World no. 20 grabbed another break after spreading Rafa over the baseline for a 3-0 lead.
Fritz held at love in game four before Nadal pulled one break back in game eight after the rival's backhand mistake. The Spaniard netted a routine backhand in game nine and faced two set points. Fritz seized the second after Nadal's loose forehand to deliver his third break and clinch the opener 6-3 in 39 minutes.
Rafa created two break chances at 1-1 in the second set after Taylor's double fault. Nadal converted the second after the rival's wayward forehand to open a 2-1 gap. Fritz broke back in the next game to lock the result at 2-2.
The American defended four break points in game five to remain on the positive side. Nadal earned another break chance at 4-4 with a forehand crosscourt winner, doing his best to force a decider. Fritz saved it with a solid backhand attack and brought the game home after Nadal's backhand error.
Rafa received a medical timeout on his left rib and served to stay in the match in game ten. Taylor created a match point with a forehand down the line winner, and Rafa denied it with a forehand attack. The Spaniard earned more return chances in game 11.
He squandered the first with a loose forehand and the second when the American fired a rare ace. Nadal left those opportunities behind and produced a fine hold in game 12 to introduce a tie break. Rafa landed a volley winner at the net for 3-3 and claimed the seventh point after Taylor's poor backhand.
The Spaniard attacked in the ninth point and closed it with a smash winner at the net for a 5-4 advantage. Rafa played a terrible forehand drive-volley from an ideal position to bring the rival back to 5-5. Taylor grabbed another mini-break in the 11th point and converted the second match point with a forehand attack for his first Masters 1000 title.
"Beating Rafael Nadal in Indian Wells felt insane. I play tennis for those kinds of moments. I was not sure if I would even be able to play before the final, and I ended up winning the title. Winning Indian wells was crazy," Taylor Fritz said.