Monday, October 19, 2015

Fritz, 17, coasts to second straight Challenger title

Taylor Fritz earned $7,200 for winning the singles title in the
$50,000 Fairfield (Calif.) Challenger. Photo by Paul Bauman
    FAIRFIELD, Calif. -- There was no drama this time, just a clinic by Taylor Fritz.
   Playing sensationally, the 17-year-old American whiz disposed of flashy veteran Dustin Brown 6-3, 6-4 in 57 minutes on Sunday to win the $50,000 Fairfield Men's Pro Challenger at In Shape: Fairfield Rancho Solano.
   Fritz, who turned pro in August before the U.S. Open, captured his second Challenger title in two weeks and extended his winning streak to 16 matches. He won the U.S. Open junior title last month and the $100,000 Sacramento Challenger the week before Fairfield.
   Fritz saved three match points in a 6-7 (3), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (9) victory over Brown in the second round in Sacramento. The match, the first between the players, lasted 2 hours, 25 minutes.
   This time, Fritz served, returned and pounded groundstrokes brilliantly. He broke serve once in each set and saved all three break points he faced.
Runner-up Dustin Brown addresses the crowd
as tournament director Scott McCulloch watch-
es. Brown also lost in the doubles final. He earn-
ed $4,240 in singles and $900 in doubles.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   "I made a lot more returns, made him play a lot more volleys, passed a lot better and served a lot better," said Fritz, who has skyrocketed from No. 694 in the world to No. 232 in the past two weeks. "This is the best match I've played in the whole two weeks. It's what I had to do to win today."
   Fritz, the world's top junior, repeatedly returned the 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) Brown's booming serve to his feet at the net for winners.
   "The court might be a bit slower here than in Sacramento," explained Fritz, who at 6-foot-4 (1.93 meters) also has a big serve. "Sacramento has pretty fast courts. Also, because I saw his serve a lot last week, I was a little more adjusted to it. More than anything, I think just played really well. That's the main reason I did so much better."
   The final was the unseeded Fritz's closest match in the tournament. He knocked off seeds in his last four matches: No. 1 Tim Smyczek of Tampa, Fla., No. 8 Blaz Kavcic and No. 4 Blaz Rola of Slovenia, and No. 3 Brown of Germany. Fritz was broken only once, against Rola, who won the 2013 NCAA singles champion as an Ohio State junior. The 6-foot-4 (1.93-meter) left-hander then turned pro.
   Fritz joined Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro, Tomas Berdych, Bernard Tomic and Richard Gasquet as players who have won multiple Challengers before age 18. Fritz, from Rancho Santa Fe in the San Diego area, will turn 18 on Oct. 28.  
Fritz celebrates after winning champion-
ship point. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Brown shocked Nadal on Centre Court at Wimbledon in the second round this year to improve to 2-0 lifetime against the 14-time Grand Slam champion. Both wins have come on grass.     
   "I want to thank Taylor for kicking my ass twice in two weeks," the 30-year-old Brown, who improved four spots to No. 106, told the crowd during the awards presentation. "He's a great player. We actually practiced (together) at the Open."
   Not only is Brown one of the few serve-and-volleyers in tennis, he even comes in on his second serve. Fritz said he's not surprised that Brown volleys so much.
   "That's how he plays. That's what he does best, and that's why he's beaten Nadal twice," Fritz said. 
   Both players have unusual family backgrounds.
   Fritz's mother (Kathy May), father (Guy Fritz) and uncle (Harry Fritz) all played professionally. May climbed to No. 10 in the world and played in three Grand Slam quarterfinals. Guy is one of Taylor's coaches.
   Brown has a German mother and Jamaican father.
   Nicknamed "Dreddy," Brown has dreadlocks that cascade down his back almost to his waist. He wears sleeveless shirts and sports a tattoo of his father on the side of his stomach.
Brown makes one of his frequent forays to the net.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Fritz and Brown could meet again in the second round of this week's $50,000 Las Vegas Challenger.
   Brown also lost in the Fairfield doubles final. He and Australia's Carsten Ball, the No. 1 seeds, fell to No. 2 Johan Brunstrom of Sweden and Frederik Nielsen of Denmark 3-6, 7-5 [10-5].
   Brunstrom and Nielsen avenged a 6-2, 7-6 (9) loss to Brown and countryman Daniel Brands in the Sacramento semifinals. Brands and Brown then lost to Kavcic and countryman Grega Zemlja.
   Brunstrom and Nielsen also won the $100,000 Tiburon Challenger the week before Sacramento.
   In 2012, Nielsen and Jonathan Marray of Great Britain became the only wild cards to capture the Wimbledon men's doubles title.

6 comments:

  1. So happy for Taylor Fritz. Paul, how does one go about following players on the web? In other words, I'm interested in following Fritz, Paul, Tiafoe, Opelka,
    Donaldson and others so how do I know what challengers or tournaments they are in? I can see they have Las Vegas Challenger next but I guessed that would be the next step. Is there a place on the web I can type in a players name and find out what events they are scheduled for?

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    1. Not that I know of. I go to atpworldtour.com (click on "Scores" for ATP tournaments or "Tournaments," then "Challengers") or usta.com (click on "pro tennis," then "Pro Circuit") for draws each week.

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  2. I think you can try following them on Twitter. Also, via zootennis.com while still juniors. The ATP/WTA app for iOS is also good. For Itf 10k and 15k go to itftennis.com.

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  3. Core tennis is a great site to follow player results. They have an easy search feature

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  4. Alex... thanks so much. That's almost exactly what I was looking for! ;)

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  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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