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By Richard Pagliaro | Tuesday, October 12, 2021


Taylor Fritz broke four times toppling fifth-seeded Matteo Berrettini 6-4, 6-3 to set up an Indian Wells fourth-round clash vs. Jannik Sinner.

Photo credit: BNP Paribas Open

Blustery wind gusts struck Indian Wells yesterday.

Taylor Fritz faced tennis tempest Matteo Berrettini brings and didn’t blink today.

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Playing with calm amid the competitive storm, Fritz stunned the fifth-seeded Berrettini 6-4, 6-3 to charge into the BNP Paribas Open fourth round for the second time.

It is Fritz's first Top 10 win since 2019 when he beat world No. 5 Dominic Thiem in Laver Cup, topped No. 4 Alexander Zverev in Basel and beat the eighth-ranked Berrettini in Davis Cup. 

"I have been looking for some good results in these big events for a bit, and I definitely let more than a couple kind of slip away from me that I felt like I should have won," Fritz said. "So it's nice to kind of just play a solid match, close it out, close it out in the end there. You know, move forward, give myself another opportunity to maybe make quarterfinal, semifinal here at a big event.

"Obviously this one being close to home, being a tournament I grew up coming to, it's a little extra special."

The 39th-ranked Fritz permitted just seven points on first serve scoring his seventh career Top 10 win.

The victory vaults Fritz into another showdown with a talented Italian: Fritz will play 10th-seeded Jannik Sinner, who took a walkover into the fourth round when John Isner withdrew to return home to be with his wife, who is pregnant and due to give birth.

"He's a really good player. We have practiced a couple of times, and it's always actually been really high level," Fritz said of Sinner. "I have said I kind of like the ball he hits, the pace he gives me. I think he does too. You know, whenever we practice, it's always very back-and-forth, big hitting.

"I think it's going to be a lot of that in our match. I think I'm going to have to be aggressive, serve well. It's going to be a lot of side-to-side, big hitting off both sides."

Fast starts in both sets propelled Fritz past the Wimbledon finalist for the second time in as many meetings following his three-set win at the 2019 Davis Cup. Fritz raced out to a 5-1 double-break lead in the first set and surged to a 4-1 second-set lead.

While Berrettini wasn’t at his best today—the towering Italian twice double-faulted away breaks and uncharacteristically netted his forehand kill shot trying to change direction—Fritz intensified pressure with aggressive return positioning and frequently cornered his opponent on his backhand wing.

California native Fritz looked right at home reaching the round of 16 for the first time since 2018 when he beat Reilly Opelka, Andrey Rublev and Fernando Verdasco to reach the fourth round. Today, Fritz frequently stepped in to take Berrettini’s kick serve on the rise: the American won 14 of 21 points played on the Italian’s second serve and broke serve four times.

The 31st-seeded Fritz handcuffed Berrettini with a low pass than broke for 3-1 when the Wimbledon finalist double faulted. Fritz fired a serve winner out wide backing up the break with a love hold for 4-1.

Though Berrettini possesses a hellacious kick serve, the 6’4” Fritz was timing the ball superbly as he stepped in and roped a forehand return drawing a stray reply to break again for 5-1.

The double-break lead wasn’t safe against the big-hitting Berrettini who boomed through successive breaks reeling off three games in a row to close the gap to 4-5.

The fifth-seeded Berrettini put in all that effort only to fall behind lov-30 when serving to level. Shoveling a drop shot wide, Berrettini faced triple-set point. When the Italian dumped his second double fault, Fritz collected an up-and-down 39-minute opener.

The 23-year-old Fritz fended off a break point in his opening service game of the second set.

Tennis Express

A key to this match: Fritz held his ground on return and did a good job putting plenty of returns back into play. Running around his backhand, Berrettini clubbed a forehand down the line into net as Fritz snatched the first break of the second set for a 3-1 lead.

Navigating a difficult deuce hold, Fritz continued targeting the weaker Berrettini backhand wing. Pushing the Italian into his backhand corner, Fritz whipped a forehand winner down the line holding for 5-2.

The 2019 US Open semifinalist made a rousing stand in the eighth game fighting off four match points and holding with a running forehand crosscourt to shift the pressure squarely on Fritz’s shoulders.

On his fifth match point, Fritz came forward and dug out a forehand volley pounding his right hand over his chest to celebrate a one hour, 22-minute triumph.


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