Indian Wells: Fritz wins Indian Wells but his girlfriend grabs even more attention
The American may have won the biggest title of his career in Indian Wells but his girlfriend remains more famous than him
It may not seem like it, but this is a day of celebration for American men’s tennis, which has been moribund for far too many years. By winning the BNP Paribas Open, with a stunning win over Rafael Nadal, Taylor Fritz became the first American to win Indian Wells since Andre Agassi.
The native Californian overcame an ailing Nadal in the final to win his second career title and first Masters 1000 title and at No 13, he’s now the highest-ranked American man.
At 24 years old, Fritz should garner hopes of an American resurgence. He seems to have reached a real milestone in his career in recent months; after his semi-final in Indian Wells last year (which he lost to Nikoloz Basilashvili), he has since reached the final in St Petersburg, the quarter-finals at the Rolex Paris Masters and the round of 16 at the Australian Open at the beginning of the year, a stage he had never before reached in a Grand Slam.
These are performances that have allowed him to break through the wall of the top 20 – he’s now 13 and the highest-ranked American. With a tennis style that is both aggressive and loose, reminiscent in some respects of Mardy Fish, he may have the potential to go even higher.
Fritz, youngest American runner-up on the Tour since 1990
Fritz has promised much since his youth – probably just as much as his rivals from the class of 1997, Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev, the latter whom he beat in the semi-finals this Saturday. The 2015 world junior No 1, Fritz became the youngest American to reach a final on the circuit since 1990 (at the age of 18) the following year in Memphis. He won his first title at Eastbourne in 2019, becoming the youngest American to reach the top 25 since (again) Andy Roddick in 2004.
Since then, the son of former American player Kathy May (10th in the world in 1977) has suffered various physical problems, and has not quite fulfilled his potential – perhaps to the point where the American public is clearly no longer enthusiastic about him. Whether they are right or wrong about that, the future will tell.
Morgan Riddle attracts more on social media
In the meantime, the facts are there: his girlfriend, the American influencer Morgan Riddle, attracts far more views on her social media than there are spectators in the Indian Wells stadium. In fact, she might actually get more clicks than there are people in the whole country. She has gained a new level of fame through the videos she has taken to posting on TikTok in which she recounts her daily life as what she describes as a “tennis girlfriend”.
One of these videos, posted last month, has gone viral. In this video, the young woman with 226.8 million subscribers uses a very light-hearted tone to describe what the tennis world is like for her, and it’s everything one might imagine: private jets, luxury hotels, magnificent locations, and more. In short, a paradise for an influencer.
100 per cent agree with everything in that video.Taylor Fritz
In the face of some outraged reactions from purists, Fritz unsurprisingly defended his partner.
“I don’t understand how anyone can get upset about it,” he said. “I’m the one that’s a professional tennis player, I’m the one that does this for a living. 100 per cent agree with everything in that video.
“It got a ton of people looking at it. Regardless of the reaction people have had from it, I think everyone in the tennis community can agree that it’s good for tennis to kind of almost sell it in a different kind of way, one that she knew her audience would react to.”
Maybe Fritz has a point. But the best way to get people talking about him now is to win big matches and big titles. His victory over Nadal in Indian Wells is a good way to start.