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Fritz debuts in style, hands Nadal another Nitto ATP Finals loss

Taylor Fritz is off to a winning start at the year-end championship after beating Rafael Nadal in straight sets on Sunday night. Fritz will face fellow winner Casper Ruud in his next match.

Taylor Fritz Laver Cup 2022 Taylor Fritz, 2022 | © AI/Reuters/Panoramic

Playing his first-ever match at the Nitto ATP Finals, Taylor Fritz defeated Rafael Nadal 7-6(3), 6-1 as round-robin competition in the Green Group got underway on Sunday. Fritz joined Casper Ruud with a 1-0 record in Turin after one hour and 37 minutes.

Fritz seemingly had control throughout the opening set, but a service break remained elusive. The 25-year-old got a look at one break point at 2-2 and a pair at 3-3 only to see them go by the wayside. Despite those disappointments, Fritz had no trouble seizing another upper hand in the tiebreaker. He raced to a 3-0 lead and never looked back, converting his first set point at 6-3 with a blistering forehand winner.

Nadal’s comeback attempt foiled by serving woes

It felt like only a matter of time before Nadal would get broken, and that is exactly what happened at 1-2 in the second set. The 22-time Grand Slam champion dropped serve and that sent him into a downward spiral. Nadal’s service game at 1-4 was especially bad, as he double-faulted three times and his forehand went off the rails. That handed yet another break to Fritz, who served out the match easily in the next game.

“It feels great,” the ninth-ranked American assured. “I felt like coming out in the first match especially for my hopes of getting out of the group, I didn’t want to put myself in a position where I needed to win out if I move on. I played a great match and I couldn’t be happier…. I feel good. The way I served and played today was great and I’ll look to do that again.”

Nadal faces Auger-Aliassime in virtual must-win situation

Next up for Nadal on Tuesday is Felix Auger-Aliassime, who lost to Ruud 7-6(4), 6-4 earlier in the day. With 0-1 records and 0-2 in total sets, both players almost certainly have to win that next match to keep their semifinal qualification chances alive.

Nadal has never won the Nitto ATP Finals and he hasn’t reached the final since 2013.

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