Upsets were the theme on opening day of the ATP Finals in Turin, Italy. Taylor Fritz surprised Rafael Nadal in the night match with a convincing 7-6(1), 6-1 win in his ATP Finals debut.
Fritz defeated Nadal in the Indian Wells final but Nadal returned the favor at Wimbledon. Indoors, though, Fritz was paced by his monster serve to beat Nadal who falls to 0-2 in singles play since the US Open.
“It feels great. I felt like coming out first match, especially for my hopes of getting out of the group, it was going to be really important,” said Fritz. “I didn’t want to put myself in a position where I needed to win out if I wanted to move on. I came out and played a great match, and I couldn’t be happier.”
Fritz finished with eight aces and lost just four points on second serve on the slick court. The last player into the field, Fritz said the conditions suit his game.
“The court’s definitely fast. For me, fast is good for my serve, it’s good for my backhand,” he told the crowd. “I feel like different speeds always have parts that help my game, and parts that hurt my game. On a slower court, I have so much more time to kind of load up on a forehand.
“On a court like this, I can lean into my backhand and hit it deep cross to Rafa’s forehand, and it makes it a but tougher for him to step in and crush it. On a slower surface, he gets time on the forehand when I go backhand cross, and it’s probably done for me. So I’d say that’s where it helps me the most on the ground against him.”
Nadal is seeking his first ATP Finals title and he still has a chance at the No. 1 ranking but must reach at least the final.
“We can find different ways to explain what happened, at the end, Fritz played very well,” said Nadal. “I was not able to handle his power. It’s obvious that in this kind of surface, you need to play very well. You don’t have time to think for a tactic.
“Serving like Fritz served, then you are under pressure all the time. When somebody is serving that way, on the return he is going for every shot. Just well played from him, not enough from me.”
Earlier in Green Group play, Casper Ruud, a semifinalist at this event a year ago, had the answers to defeat Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6(4), 6-4.
The Canadian was making his debut but came into the event having won 16 of his last 17 matches.
“I think this is some of the best level that I have played since the US Open,” said Ruud. “The last couple of months have been a little bit of a struggle, I have to honestly say that, but you have to accept it as well. You will face difficult moments in your career, and maybe these last couple of months was one of those.
“It doesn’t matter how hard you practice if you don’t win matches, so today was a great win for me.”
On Tuesday, Nadal returns to face Auger-Aliassime and Ruud collides with Fritz.
Tomorrow, Novak Djokovic is in action against Stefanos Tsitsipas. Djokovic leads 9-2 including two recent wins.
In an all-Russian battle, former champion Daniil Medvedev meets Andrey Rublev.
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Medvedev just got Medvedeved for the second match in a row. The score line is much closer than it should have been. Had Rublev lost, I would probably say it would be one of the biggest chokes ever. 7 set points in the first set. Loses the first set. Loses first 4 match points. Good thing he won. Medvedev doesn’t have the knockout blow in these long rallies. 3 rallies over 30 shots in the tie break. Rublev stayed patient and used his superior power on the ground strokes to put this match away.
November 14th, 2022 at 12:33 pm