Focused Fritz Extends Team World’s Advantage
Taylor Fritz wasn’t about to let the momentum slip away. Facing a familiar foe in Andrey Rublev on Day 2 of the 2023 Laver Cup, the 25-year-old American upped Team World’s advantage to 6-0 with a thrilling 6-2 7-6(3) win in Vancouver.
The victory is payback for Fritz’s semifinal loss to Rublev earlier this year on clay in Monte-Carlo, a match in which he let a one-set advantage slip away. Rublev would prevail, 5-7 6-1 6-3, en route to his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title.
“Any type of team environment, I feel like it always elevates my game,” said Fritz, who surrendered just two points on his serve in the clean opening set.
“I feel like my record in team events is really strong because I have a team cheering for me. I get pumped up. I’m excited to play for them. It just adds more pressure and fire to it. I think I play better in those situartions.”
It didn’t take long for Fritz, the first American to crack the Top 5 since Andy Roddick in 2009, to assert himself. With his opponent serving at 30-40 in the first game of the match, he would force a backhand error, subsequently consolidating the service break for an early 2-0 lead.
Rublev’s trademark grunt had a little extra something on it on Saturday, echoing throughout the upper reaches of Rogers Arena. But the nine-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist’s increased decibel output couldn’t throw off the determined Fritz, who rallied from 0-3 and 1-4 deficits in the second set to close out the match in an hour-and-a-half.
“Yesterday, all the guys played really well. I felt that and wanted to come out on court and show what I can do. That definitely motivated me,” said Fritz, who finished with seven aces to two double faults. “I hope it looked as good as I thought it looked on the court.”
Fritz isn’t one to refer to himself as a ‘team leader’. But Team World Vice-Captain Patrick McEnroe is happy to say it for him.
“Well, he is,” said McEnroe. “It’s fun to watch these guys over a period of time as they develop. I’ve obviously seen Taylor since he was a teenager. He plays great in this environment. I think that is a sign of a great leader. Not only does he inspire the other guys who all push each other, but when it’s his time and the bell rings, he’s always ready to go.”