Taylor Fritz: Embracing the Challenge
Team World’s Taylor Fritz is on a quest to strike at the heart of Team Europe’s defense.
Three years after his Laver Cup debut at Geneva, American Taylor Fritz arrives at The O2 celebrating a career-high singles ranking of No.12 and hoping to tap into the kind of tennis that led to him winning his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells earlier this year.
It’s a challenge that he is more than ready to embrace in a stand-out season and with a sensational Laver Cup 2019 victory over top 10 player Dominic Thiem to draw on.
“Knowing I have to beat one of the top guys… that’s going to give us the best chance of winning. It’s a team competition, so I just want to do what’s asked of me. That might be tougher than in previous years, but I’m ready to go.”
Fritz’s 2022 highlights include a triumph over Team Europe staple Rafael Nadal in the Indian Wells final (where he became the first American man to capture the title since Andre Agassi in 2001). A few months later, Fritz continued to shine at Wimbledon before losing a nail-biting five-set quarterfinal to the 22-time Grand Slam champion on Centre Court.
It was a shattering loss, but the American proved he could push one of the greatest players in the history of tennis right to the edge.
“These guys, they’re so good at Slams. But a lot of beating them is also kind of beating the name you’re playing against, just having that belief that you can do it,” Fritz said at Wimbledon.
“I think that’s a big hurdle to get over. I think that’s something that has definitely changed for me more recently, is that I do believe they’re beatable. But it still takes a hell of an effort to be able to beat them.”
He would be delighted to face Nadal for a third time this year at Laver Cup.
“I would love to get on court with him again and have another chance,” he says.
“It’s amazing for him to be going the way that he is and for as long as he has been. It’s crazy that he’s still competing at the absolute highest level.”
Fritz says the key to Team World claiming a maiden Laver Cup is clear: get wins on day three, when each match is worth three points.
“From what I’ve learned, yes, every match matters, but you have to be winning matches on day three,” he explains. “That’s what it’s going to come down to.”
How it’s going
Despite a foot injury that sidelined Fritz for most of the clay court season and impacted his off-court training, Fritz has won a total 35 matches leading into Laver Cup.
He added a third career title in Eastbourne prior to Wimbledon, where he made his first major quarterfinal, and he also reached the last eight at the Cincinnati Masters, defeating No.8 Andrey Rublev in the round of 16.
On playing Laver Cup
In his second overall Laver Cup appearance, Fritz wants to flip the script: “It’s gotta be our time,” he says of the 0-4 record. “It’s been a while and I think that it’s finally time – we need this win. We’ve waited long enough.”
Fritz knows he may need to conjure up the sort of magic he produced against Nadal at Indian Wells – and he also wouldn’t mind a third career meeting against Roger Federer.
“I would love to play Fed,” Fritz admits. “I’ve played Roger twice and I’ve never beaten him. I would love to have a shot at it.”
Fritz anticipates the roaring welcome that Team Europe will receive from The O2 crowd, but says it won’t be intimidating – on the contrary – invigorating.
“It’s going to be amazing to see how the crowd reacts to those guys being called out,” he says. “It’s exciting for us. It might be more intimidating if it wasn’t a team atmosphere, but I have a whole team behind me.”
That team atmosphere, led by Captain John McEnroe, is something Fritz relishes and can’t wait to be a part of again.
“[Laver Cup] is unlike anything you feel on tour when you’re playing on your own. You’re playing for the team,” he says. “You’re getting pumped, but you can feed off of the team because they want it as bad as you do. It makes it that much more special being in team competition format.”