- Benjamin Gerstel
Taylor Fritz shows heart in grueling match
After a perfect first set, bageling Roberto Bautista-Augut (#18) 6-0, the young American (#22), Taylor Fritz, proved his sentiments of 6-0 victories, against people who were better (Bautista owns head-to-head record 5-1) right. He was quoted, saying that “you’re probably going to lose the next set.” He elaborated, saying this was due in large part to your opponent playing more relaxed, but also because you’re likely not going to play as well throughout the match. He was clearly prepared for this scenario tonight, as he and Bautista battled in epic fashion.
Bautista responded with two grueling sets of his own, fighting off the early momentum Fritz possessed. It wasn’t as clean as Fritz’s first set, with a few mental errors on Bautista’s part. One major one occurred, when a fifteen point rally finished with an unforced error by the Spaniard. However, despite these struggles, Bautista showed a ton of heart by closing out the next two. After a 46-minute fourth set, Fritz sent the match into a fifth set.
Fritz concluded the first game, with an extraordinary crosscourt-backhand. Following that superb shot, the American iced the second game, with a risky yet successful, powerful second serve. Powerful second serves are risky because after already faulting once, you need to get the ball in. However, it ended up being successful. Bautista Agut responded with one of his own, and an ace on top of it to defend his own serve. Fritz eventually began to pull away, despite a valiant effort from the Spaniard. He had a sweet backhand around the net, and began poaching at the end, with some convincing volleys. By the fifth set, it seemed like the 33 year old’s age caught up to him, as he ran out of steam. For the first time all match, Fritz was even pulling dropshots out of nowhere too. It was clear by the second half of the last set, the match was over.
Taylor Fritz advances to the fourth round, for the first time in his career. He does so in spectacular fashion, against a player five seeds ahead of him. Even though his opponent was nine years older, and there was a clear difference in athletic ability, pulling this off after the match with Tiafoe two days prior is no small task for the American. Fritz was able to achieve this, by dominating the offensive end. He put pressure on Bautista Agut all night with his serves, with 19 aces in the entire match. Immediately, before the point even begins, he’s putting Bautista in a defensive position. In turn, Fritz can open up a nice shot for himself, evident in his 61 winners. He had nearly double the winners Bautista Agut had, with 30 forehand and 11 backhand winners. It was a stellar performance from the 24-year old.
After winning (6-0, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3,), Fritz advances to the first fourth round of his career. The American can now add the 18th seeded Bautista to his impressive list of victories, which also includes Rublev, Berrettini, Zverev, and Sinner (who is a potential quarterfinal matchup). He’s had the best campaign of his career so far, and he marches on to face the winner of (4) Tsitsipas and the unranked Paire.