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By Tennis Now | Friday, April 13, 2018

 
Taylor Fritz

Taylor Fritz fought back from a break down in the final set toppling third-seeded Jack Sock, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, to reach his second career semifinal in Houston.

Photo credit: U.S. Men's Clay Court Championship

Taylor Fritz insists dramatic comebacks aren't a personal preference.

The 20-year-old Fritz is already adept at the art of the comeback.

Watch: Nadal, Djokovic, Thiem in Same Quarter of Monte-Carlo Draw

Fritz fought back from a break down in the decisive set toppling third-seeded Jack Sock, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, to reach his second career semifinal in Houston.

It is Fritz' first career clay-court semifinal and his first ATP semifinal since his inspired run to the 2016 Memphis final in his third career tournament.

Fritz fired 14 aces and saved five of seven break points to beat the Paris Masters champion for the first time in three meetings. 

"I hadn't won any first sets against him either I was thinking about that," Fritz told Tennis Channel's Leif Shiras afterward. "(I wanted to) come out strong, start strong. I don't want to play from behind against him, especially on clay.I wanted to keep it close at the beginning."

Peaking at the end has helped Fritz post an 8-3 Tour-level record this season.

The California baseliner saved two match points subduing Tim Smyczek, in a two hour, 39-minute struggle to open the tournament then rallied from a set down to defuse seventh-seeded Ryan Harrison, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3.

Though Fritz converted just three of 12 break points tonight, two of his three breaks came in the final set.

"I was having chances," Fritz told Shiras. "I had lots of chances to break. I wasn't converting... I just told myself: 'I'll get more. I'll get more.' I kept working for it and finally able to get it."

Fritz has brought focus to final sets, raising his decisive-set record to 14-3, including Challenger maches, this season. 

"I don't mind it, but I don't prefer it," Fritz said of his comeback acumen. "I d prefer to have a normal match, a straight-forward match, without the stress.

"I feel like back (in 2016) I was having to play my best tennis to have those results, now I feel I'm playing within myself. I'm playing not amazing, but well, and I feel more ready to take on the moments."

Fritz, who also saved a match point vs. buddy Reilly Opelka at Indian Wells last month, will face either top-seeded John Isner, the 2013 champion, or sixth-seeded Steve Johnson in tomorrow's all-American semifinal.

Ivo Karlovic continues his Houston renaissance.

The 39-year-old Karlovic cranked 18 aces and erased two of three break points fending off fourth-seeded Nick Kyrgios, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, to power into the final four.

Karlovic is the oldest man to advance to an ATP semifinal since Jimmy Connors at the 1993 San Francisco.

It was Karlovic's first win over Kyrgios in five meetings.

The Aussie wild card, who took the tape off his ailing right elbow during the second set, delivered his share of shot-making magic, including a leaping drop shot winner off the sideline and this improvised tweener.




The 2007 champion will play Tennys Sandgren for a place in the final.




The eighth-seeded Sandgren surged into his first ATP semifinal storming back for a 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, conquest of Guido Pella after the Argentine served for the semifinals up a set and 5-4. 

 

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