On the Fritz: Taylor ends Rafa’s perfect start
AMERICAN Taylor Fritz caused a huge upset in his home nation by upsetting the previously unbeaten Rafael Nadal in straight sets at the Indian Wells ATP Masters 1000 final. There were massive behind-the-scenes discussions from Fritz’s coaches pre-match telling him not to take the court due to an ankle injury, but the American insisted he was good to go. Though he conceded he had “never experienced worse pain” prior to a match, the San Diego native got the job done, 6-3 7-6.
Needing to close out the match out as quickly as possible – and Nadal being one of the most difficult players to do that against – Fritz played as aggressive as possible and was able to stop the Spaniard winning his record-tying 37th ATP Masters 1000 title. It also handed Nadal his first loss of 2022 after going 20-0 to start the season, which featured three titles.
“I can’t even begin to describe how ridiculous it is that I was able to play how I could play today,” Fritz said post-match. “I’ve never experienced worse pain in my life before a match.
“We did a lot of work leading up to the match and I went through a roller coaster of emotions before the match, from thinking there was no way I could possibly play to then doing all this work on the ankle, doing so much stuff to it…. I came out here and it didn’t really affect me at all.”
Fritz also had a chance to win the match at 5-4, but Nadal saved the championship point and forced a tiebreaker. The American stood up against the pressure and came up trumps to become the first American men’s champion at the event since Andre Agassi 21 years ago.
“I’m going to have to hold back tears for every single interview I do, every single on-court speech,” Fritz said. “This is going to be tough because I’m such a happy crier.
“Winning this tournament especially, Indian Wells, this is one of those childhood dreams that you just never think can come true. I just keep saying, ‘No, no. Just no way it’s real.”
Swiatek claims Indian Wells, becomes new world number two
POLISH rising star Iga Swiatek has claimed the number two spot in the world rankings after winning at Indian Wells. The 20-year-old defeated Maria Sakkari 6-4 6-1 in the final, with the Greek talent subsequently becoming the new world number three for her efforts in reaching the final. Yet to lose a match at WTA 1000 events this year, Swiatek claimed her fifth career title at the event, becoming the first ever Polish woman to claim the title, and is now the equal highest ranked Polish woman of all-time with Agnieszka Radwanska.
Having won the Qatar Open last month, Swiatek has been on fire at the top events, with her latest win coming in 80 minutes over Sakkari. Despite not beating Sakkari in any of her first three meetings, the Pole found the right formula to get the job done and post the win in 80 minutes.
“At the beginning of the tournament, I wouldn’t even think about winning, honestly,” Swiatek said post-match. “Of course you have to believe in yourself, but I’m a realistic person.
“Winning after playing so well in Doha is giving me a lot of confidence and kind of belief that I can do it…I wouldn’t think of myself as someone who’s ready to play two tournaments in a row and win it. For sure hard work is paying off.
“[Sakkari and I are] stepping a similar path, looking at rankings and looking at what we’ve been playing for the last couple of years. Paula Badosa, Anett [Kontaveit] and Ons Jabeur, I don’t want to forget anybody, but I think we kind of started playing, Top 10 tennis at the same time.
“[The World No.2 ranking is] pretty surreal for now. I have to look at it and I have to check the rankings by myself and just see it. Right now it’s too surreal to describe it, honestly….But for sure I want to go higher because I feel like getting No. 1 is closer and closer.”