We had almost ended up forgetting it. Taylor Fritz remained in a corner of our heads, but no longer quite the center of attention. Since his title in Indian Wells in March, beating Rafael Nadal Nadal in the final, the American had remained relatively discreet.
In his next 13 matches, his record was almost anecdotal: 7 wins, 6 losses. He went through the Terran spring without a shine despite a quarter-final in Monte-Carlo, which was not a huge surprise, but his two defeats in the first round at s’Hertogenbosch, then at Queens at the start. of the short grass season had caused more concern. But today, “Fritz is back”.
So there was no need to panic. “It was a low point“, admits the Californian about his laborious recovery on grass, even if he had some extenuating circumstances, hampered by tendinitis in his knee. “I’ve had a few injuries lately, I just need to get my health back and my game and the results will follow“, he judged just before the start of the London fortnight. He quickly rectified the situation. A title at Eastbourne, then a perfect start to Wimbledon since he was in the quarter-finals, a great first for him in a Grand Slam, the all without having lost a single set.
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The most fussy will note that Fritz benefited from a tailor-made table at the All England Club. Lorenzo Musetti in the first round, then Alastair Gray, Alex Molcan and Jason Kubler, against whom he celebrated July 4, the American national holiday. We have indeed known more complex course to rally the quarters of a major tournament. But hard to blame him. The job was well done. From now on, it is an understatement to say that he will have to change gear. The walk is over. Rafael Nadal is waiting for his baptism of fire at this stage of the competition.
The Spaniard, three steps from a Petit Slam while waiting, perhaps, to aim for the big one at the US Open, has not forgotten the Indian Wells final, where he suffered his first defeat of the ‘year. Asked on the court on Monday after his victory against Botic van de Zandschulp, Nadal sparked laughter from the public when he spoke of his quarter-final: “He’s playing well, he’s having a great season, he won his first Masters 1000… by the way, beating me on the way to the final.”
Can this reference in the Californian desert help Taylor Fritz before the reunion on Wednesday? Yes and no. The great benefit of this victory for the American number one is to have broken a lock. “After that final I was like in a dream, it didn’t seem real to me that I managed to do that, I thought someone was going to tell me that it wasn’t truehe explains in the town and country mag, a San Diego newspaper. But it was as important to beat Rafa in the final as to win the tournament, it convinced me that I belonged.”
A last forehand winner and Fritz can exult: the match point against Nadal
The other advantage is the process to follow. He knows her. “I was very aggressive in this game, that’s how you have to be against someone like Rafahe adds. In a way, it’s easy to make the decisions, more so than if I was playing against someone I absolutely have to beat. You don’t have to force yourself to play this way, because you know it’s the only way.” The slope is steep, but the road is straight, in a way.
However, there is a world between a Masters 1000 final and a Grand Slam quarter-final, uncharted territory for Taylor Fritz. He will also face a Nadal who will not be physically diminished (the Majorcan had been hit in the ribs and had moreover had to give up at the start of the season on clay), even if he himself was not at 100% ( he suffered from foot pain and had even considered withdrawing for a time). “It will be a very different game from Indian Wells, and we will have to play even better“, concedes the American.
Taylor Fritz, a feat or nothing against Nadal.
Credit: Getty Images
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