Taylor Fritz: The Next Great American Hope of Tennis

Taylor Fritz

The big three of tennis, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic have dominated men’s tennis for a better part of two decades now. They have combined to win 63 Grand Slams together and have basically enjoyed a monopoly on men’s tennis. However, while their achievements seem superhuman, they are still human. They are growing older and soon a new crop of players is definitely going to rise to the top of men’s tennis. One of these players is American youngster Taylor Fritz. In this post, we will find out more about him.

Taylor Fritz and His Rise In The Tennis World

How did Taylor Fritz rise to the top of the tennis world?

For many, it was unimaginable that Taylor Fritz could win Indian Wells 2022 and be a Masters 1000 champion. The same thing happened to names like Hubert Hurkacz or Cameron Norrie. This is what the new era that is coming in men’s tennis has: the democratization of the big tournaments, a process installed in most Masters 1000 and that is still waiting for the real decline of the Big Three to be established in Grand Slams. However, beyond the future panorama of the ATP, the triumph of the tennis player from Rancho Santa Fe in a tournament of this status is not such a shock. In fact, it is a well-deserved reward for one of the most evolved players in the last two years

And yes: Rafael Nadal played the title match with discomfort. It would be naive to hide the niggles, something that many do, seeing injuries as a kind of “taboo” issue that divides fans from one side to the other. Admitting it does not detract one iota of merit from the feat achieved by Fritz. The real challenge for him was on the mental plane, the one that played so many tricks on him on previous occasions. Where others throughout this tournament faltered, he did not fail. He secured his forehand and marched on to the title. Winning the best of the year in the tournament that he visited so many times as a child is a beautiful story, almost cinematic to be honest.

Is tennis in Taylor Fritz’s genes?

Taylor Fritz grew up in a family of athletes. His mother, in fact, was a tennis player. And very good. Excellent. She made it to the top 10. Not exactly a light yardstick for a player who had the Indian Wells Tennis Garden facilities just two hours’ drive away. He traveled there every year, excited to get autographs from his idols until his passion became his job. His physical gifts were visible: a lanky guy, with a good wingspan. An attacking profile, but far from the most basic mold of the American player: everyone highlighted in his initial stage that his backhand was capable of creating great angles and closing points with the parallel. Everything else was a construction job.

How was Taylor Fritz’s junior career?

In a way, Taylor Fritz was a victim of his own expectations. One of those marked in his time as a junior, was when he won the US Open and defeated big names like Andrey Rublev, Tommy Paul, Reilly Opelka, and Frances Tiafoe. Among members of a nascent crop of Yankee talent, he was in pole position. He showed it after dazzling in Memphis in 2016, where he reached the final at just 18 years old. What many did not know is that he was not yet ready for professional tennis. 

His body couldn’t handle the high performance loads and continuous stress of the circuit: he had the height, but he was far from developing the musculature required to withstand the grind of a professional tennis season. His tennis, complete but lacking spark or unbalancing weapons, also suffered. And if things stagnated professionally, the opposite happened personally.

What is Taylor Fritz’s history with Rafael Nadal?

Of all the Masters 1000 finals that Rafa Nadal has played in his career, this was possibly one of the ones that gave less play in the pools. It shouldn’t have been like that, since he played it against a local player and on a surface that was not his favorite, but the amount of experience he had been giving throughout the week was such that only someone very twisted could miss the final. As we always say in tennis, everything can happen until the last ball, but in Indian Wells 2022 and, with all due respect to Taylor Fritz, Nadal’s odds had been shooting up more and more in recent hours. Let’s see why.

Some thought that it was a mere matter of name, but the difference in resumes between the two was overwhelming, even in those ten days. Fritz landed in the most important final of his career after knocking out Kamil Majchrzak, Jaume Munar, Alex De Minaur, Miomir Kecmnanovic, and Andrey Rublev. Good players, of course, but only one in the top 30. On the other hand, the man from Mallorca had to clench his fist on more than one occasion to get ahead of Sebastian Korda, Daniel Evans, Reilly Opelka, Nick Kyrgios, and Carlos Alcaraz. Many mines on this path, starting with the ones he had to overcome in the first round, although it was in the semifinals against his Spanish compatriot where he really got the best suits out of him, confirming that he always responds with a note when the situation demands it.

Between the two we only found a previous confrontation although be careful, it was also in a final. It happened at the ATP 500 in Acapulco 2020, just a few weeks before the pandemic spread throughout the world and left us without a professional circuit. At that time, the Spaniard was No. 2 in the world and his pulse barely trembled to conquer Mexico once again (6-3, 6-2) against a rival who was inexperienced and for whom the appointment was a little big. Of course, that Taylor Fritz had nothing to do with today’s, two years older in experience and much better placed in the world rankings. We know that the degree of seniority in a lineup as important as a final is always decisive, so that is where the balance falls more clearly, without asking.

For Fritz, it is confirmation, not only of his quality as a tennis player and a possible arrival in the top 10 that seemed like a matter of months but also proof that California feels like a ring on his finger. His favorite tournament – ​​as he expressed it previously – has given him another unforgettable week, improving on the semi-finals reached five months ago and setting foot in his first Masters 1000 final. For Rafa, it was the 53rd final in tournaments of this category, the fifth in Palm Springs, where he was already crowned champion in 2007 (Djokovic), 2009 (Murray) and 2013 (Del Potro). Although the data that really attracted attention is the 19-0 start that Carlos Moyá’s pupil was marking himself on this calendar, one win away from sealing his fourth title in three months and going undefeated on the clay court tour. Can anyone actually stop Rafael Nadal other than injuries? Since August 2021, nobody has found the formula to knock him down.

What makes Taylor Fritz special?

As Fritz’s career grows, Nadal will find the best version of the American standing on the other side of the net. The question is, will he propose a more difficult game than his last rivals? Will Taylor be able to dominate the Spaniard the way Alcaraz did at times? Will he get as many service points as Kyrgios did? In the event that the moment of truth arrives, will he take the final step or will he sweat like Korda? Everything changes from the first round to a match for the title, a situation where Rafa is one of the most reliable athletes in the tennis world. Here’s a stat: no one has won a final against the Spaniard since Novak Djokovic did it at the Australian Open 2019. And in the Masters 1000, no one has won a final against Nadal since Roger Federer did it in Shanghai 2017. 

The American will do well with his service, to keep Nadal far from the baseline and, at the same time, to achieve a level of solidity so high that it allows him not to lose steam when the points are long. If both players are healthy, no one would bet a single penny on the Californian tennis player, not even the fact of playing at home invites us to think about the miracle, but these are the sensations that Nadal has been in charge of installing in the hours before the match. He is much superior, he is a heavy favourite in every match he plays against Fritz for now.

What did Taylor Fritz say after his Wimbledon match with Rafael Nadal?

Few men in the sports world would feel as bad as Taylor Fritz after his Wimbledon quarter final against Rafael Nadal. The American had a visibly injured Rafa Nadal against the ropes. Fritz was up two sets to one but ended up losing, as he already lost to Djokovic last year in Australia, with the Serbian suffering the same dose of legendary grit as Rafa in Wimbledon, and it left him agonisingly out of his first ever Grand Slam semifinals.

Here’s what Fritz said about the match:” (It was a) Very tough game. I’ve done things wrong and things right. Perhaps, in certain phases of the game, I should have done more. I let him be the one to take the initiative, on many occasions. Probably, this loss is the one that hurts the most of all the ones I’ve had. When the match was over, I felt like crying. I wanted to cry. I have never felt this after a loss.

When he was worse, in the second set, I stopped being offensive. I let him get close to me. I saw that he wasn’t moving well and that I thought that he had lost speed. At the end of this set, we had great points, where I was running from side to side. From then on, I began to stop thinking as if he was injured, because the points we were playing were from someone who is normal. The only thing I did see that wasn’t the same was the kick from him.

What did Taylor Fritz say about playing Nadal on grass?

Here’s what he said: “For me, it’s easier to defend on hard courts than on grass. Today, I felt like my rest didn’t do much harm. In fact, I have returned worse the slower he served. When he started serving slower, I had to generate more and swing bigger than everyone else. For me, that was more complicated. I felt more comfortable when he was serving well, early in the match. Then those slices that he does are key to him. He takes away all the rhythm and makes me work more on the point. It was difficult for me to finish the points.”

How did Taylor Fritz process his brutal loss to Nadal at Wimbledon?

Here’s what Fritz had to say after losing: ”In the end, I made it to the quarterfinals here. It’s good. It’s a great achievement and I’m happy, but really, I wanted this game. It’s hard to see anything positive now because I really wanted this win. My biggest options were in the three times he served to stay in the game. I needed to have done more in those games. I didn’t make him hesitate or pressure him.”

Speaking about the time he beat Nadal at Indian Wells earlier in 2022, Fritz had this to say: “There, I really believed I could beat him. It all depends on the attitude you have. These guys are very good at the Slams. To beat them, you also have to beat the name, believing you can do it. It is a difficult thing to overcome, but I still believe that they can be beaten. Only, you have to go down to hell to achieve it.”

How did Taylor Fritz make his miraculous recovery from injury?

Much was made of the way in which Taylor Fritz had to leave Roland Garrosearlier in 2022. The American suffered a nasty fall in his second round match and although he was able to finish it, he was unable to leave the court on his own two feet. His departure in a wheelchair and his possible torn meniscus left the grass court season uncertain. Until the day of his operation, a miracle happened. “Maybe in three weeks you’ll be ready to compete,” the surgeon told him. It was just the time that was missing for Wimbledon to arrive, so the one from Rancho Santa Fe put all the faith in the world. Sure enough, three weeks later he wasn’t just competing, he was also winning matches.

In four sets against Nakashima and in five sets against Johnson. This has been Taylor’s path to stand in the third round, where he faced the formidable Alexander Zverev. At 23 years old, the American became one of the great stories of Wimbledon 2022, although everything indicated that his trip could end in a few hours. Here’s how he managed to pull himself back up from the pits of despair after the serious injury in Paris.

“Honestly, we never thought it was a meniscus repair. At that time, the only thing I knew was that everything that happened at the last Roland Garros had been bad, this was the most basic thing. Honestly, no one likes leaving a track in a wheelchair, but I couldn’t even stand up. I tried, I tried to get up, but I couldn’t stand the pain. I looked at my team and told them: ‘Guys, we may be facing a setback that will take us away from the circuit for a long time, I have never felt anything like it. I heard how something exploded in that area, I felt how it split,” Fritz said.

“I was obviously very depressed at the time, when I had the MRI I was expecting the worst outcome. They told me that if it was what they thought it was, I could recover in 4-6 weeks. This was the same day that I said goodbye to Roland Garros. Then I went home and waited a couple of days for them to prepare for the operation. Since this happened to me over the weekend, they couldn’t do the operation until Tuesday, so I took advantage of those days to relax at home,” Fritz continued.

“On Tuesday, I had the operation, with only 20 days to go before Wimbledon starts. On the first Monday of Wimbledon it would be 20 days since the operation, so right now (Saturday) 25 days have passed since the surgery, meeting the deadlines that they told me of 4 to 6 weeks. I am sure that this is the fastest that a person has returned from an operation, I am speaking above all of surgery within professional sports and within a modality that requires changes of direction. I don’t know, maybe someone has done it in golf, but it’s not the same,” Fritz continued.

“Before entering the operating room, the surgeon simply told me what he was going to do. Apparently, it would be enough to cut a small part, just cut it, the rest would not have to touch anything because the meniscus was intact. He told me that, to compete, he didn’t need the whole team to be 100%, just most of it. I got a little scared, I thought that if a part was damaged, maybe it would be best to repair it. When I woke up, the first thing I did was ask about this: ‘Did you fix it or cut it?’ The answer was clear: ‘He cut it’. Right after that, I started thinking about everything I needed to do to get to Wimbledon on time,” Fritz concluded. 

What did Taylor Fritz say about the fines against tennis players’ behaviour?

In a year where we have seen Alexander Zverev hit an umpire’s chair and seriously insult him, as well as Medvedev call another umpire a “queer”, among other more than questionable attitudes on the part of many young tennis players, Taylor Fritz has released some statements quite controversial where he has called for a relaxation of the rules to allow tennis players to go even crazier on the court.

“I think that makes tennis more fun. We should accept that the players have more crazy attitudes and things like that. I think that, now, they fine you for any little thing and they should allow tennis players to open up more to become even crazier. new generations like drama and madness, and allowing players to do that, it would be much more exciting, “said the American.

Who was Taylor Fritz’s wife?

Taylor Fritz married Raquel Pedraza, his longtime girlfriend and also a tennis player when he was just 18 years old. One year later, his first child, Jordan, was born. At 22, Fritz was already divorced after spending a difficult period at his house. There were months of more movement in the civil courts than on the tennis courts themselves, something that changed radically with the arrival of the pandemic, when he was finally able to spend quality time with his son, at home. 

Who is Taylor Fritz’s girlfriend?

After entering several relationships, it seemed that the ship was on the right track, with a new sentimental partner, Morgan Riddle, who travels with him to tournaments and who tries to promote tennis through Tik Tok, creating innovative videos about life on the circuit. Only tennis was missing, of course.

How has Taylor Fritz evolved as a player?

Taylor Fritz’s metamorphosis into a top-15 player hasn’t been easy. It happened very gradually, after carrying a very heavy stigma on his shoulders: that of a choker. Fritz crumpled in tight endings and in moments of tension in the most important matches, unable to produce his best tennis in positions where the greatest shine. He was not able to finish the job against a visibly injured Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open 2021 (a similar thing happened during the Wimbledon 2022 quarter finals against Rafael Nadal), and he was also unable to take advantage of the opportunity of a lifetime in Indian Wells 2021, where he lost to Nikoloz Basilashvili in the semifinals after saving a match point against Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals.

On a mental level, however, something had changed in Fritz. He himself admitted that winning the Indian Wells tournament gave him the feeling that he could really compete against the best and beat them. He believed that tennis was there. He had already been polishing it for a long time, with illustrious names in his team such as Paul Annacone. In the eyes of the beholder, his greatest development is focused on lateral mobility. If he used to move sideways a little clumsily, without the agility of the best athletes that dominate the baseline, his speed and coordination have improved greatly. He is not elite yet, especially on the right side, but he has long ceased to be a straggler. Plus, several extra miles on his service aren’t a negligible boon either (enabling him to earn more free points). 

“Since the last edition of this tournament, my forehand has landed and clicked. Now I am able to release it freely, to trust it. Before, it was a shot that used to miss a lot, which made me lose matches. Now it is as if I could trust on it no matter it’s a turning point, and it allows me to earn extra free points,” Fritz said about his forehand. For Nadal, it was a suicide mission to leave short balls in the middle of the court: the man on the other side of the net was in charge of pulverizing them. With the backhand he contained Rafa’s forehand, supporting himself and using his height to draw short angles, with his right he went on the attack, even daring to go to the net at certain moments. And all this, of course, allowed for a very clear improvement in positioning along the bottom of the track, with greater coordination to resist the attacks of their rivals.

After spending a significant amount of time developing his confidence, Taylor Fritz plays more freely now. He has his personal life in order and continues to explore his limits to be a real threat. It remains to be seen how he will manage his success. He is still very young but he is already ranked 12th in the world. A top 10 spot isn’t far away for Taylor Fritz.

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