“It’s my whole life, so you can’t simulate that in practice” Fritz digs deep for biggest career win

Taylor Fritz is through to his first ATP Masters 1000 series semi-final and could become the first American to win the Indian Wells Masters in two decades

Taylor Fritz, à Indian Wells en 2021

2021 BNP-Paribas OpenATP | Draw | Order of play

23-year-old Taylor Fritz described his win over world No 3 Alexander Zverev as “unbelievable” and “a dream” as the American saved match points to advance to his first career ATP Masters Series 1000 final.

Fritz battled back from 2-5 down in the final set, saving two match points en route to winning 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 against Zverev for the best win of his career and move into the last four at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

“Obviously he’s 3 in the world. This is the farthest I’ve ever been in a big tournament. It’s easily the best win of my life, against a really tough opponent on arguably the biggest match I could possibly play. So it’s great,” Fritz said.

While Zverev’s game deserted him during the closing stages of the match, Fritz relied on his big serve and powerful forehand to get him through. The American said he was happy he did not lose the self-belief to go for his shots during the critical moments in the match.

“You can’t practice those situations. It’s just like you can’t simulate being on a court playing for the points and the money. It’s my whole life, so you can’t simulate that in practice. You just have to trust yourself, trust what you’re doing. The best thing you can do off the court is just put the practice in, put the work in so you can trust yourself as much as you possibly can in those situations.”

“I definitely don’t always feel like that. But it’s nice, at the end there I felt like I was nervous but anytime that thought went into my head of maybe being nervous, maybe when I was up in the tiebreaker, don’t choke, I just immediately, the next thought that came in was, I’m not going to choke. I just had the confidence to keep hitting my forehand, keep being aggressive. Whenever the chance to kind of make a play happened, I went for it. I felt good about it. It’s the biggest positive I’m taking away from this match, for sure, is just how I felt.”

“It would be huge for me, huge for American tennis if I could win”: Fritz

There is more than just a first ATP Masters Series title on the line for Fritz this weekend. He is hoping to become the first American player to win the Indian Wells Masters since Andre Agassi in 2001. Add to that, he is from Southern California, which makes him a big favourite with the crowds at Indian Wells. But the 24-year-old does not want to look too far ahead and wants to take it one match at a time.

“I’m just taking it one match at a time. But it would be huge for me, huge for American tennis if I could win. But like I said, just one match at a time like I’ve been doing. That’s how I got here. Just focused on tomorrow, and then we’ll think about the rest later.

Fritz will meet Georgia’s Nikolz Basilashvili for a place in the final. Basilashvili defeated second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in another three-set quarter-final upset on Friday. Despite Basilashvili ‘s ranking of No 36, Fritz is not taking the Georgian lightly.

This will be the third meeting between the two players this year. The pair have split their two meetings in 2021, with Fritz holding a 2-1 edge in career head-to-head.

“He’s very tough, especially when he’s playing with confidence. He hits the ball so big off of both sides. I just have to kind of play my game, not get too pushy or worried about making balls. I have to be aggressive, stay aggressive, so he can’t really push me around. It makes sense why he’s done well here, because it’s slower conditions. He can hit through it. He has time to set up and just crush the ball. I just got to focus on my own game, serve well, be aggressive, play the big situations well like I did today.”

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