Team World’s Taylor Fritz is looking for a punch to the heart of Team Europe’s defense.
Three years after making his Laver Cup debut in Geneva, American Taylor Fritz arrives at The O2 celebrating a career-best individual finish of 12th and hopes to capitalize on the kind of tennis that led to his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title in India led Wells earlier this year.
It’s a challenge he’ll be more than willing to take on in a stellar season and with a sensational Laver Cup 2019 win over top 10 player Dominic Thiem.
“Knowing I have to beat one of the top guys… that’s going to give us the best chance of winning. It’s a team competition, so I just want to do what’s asked of me. It might be tougher than in previous years, but I’m ready for it.”
Highlights of Fritz 2022 include a triumph over Team Europe stalwart Rafael Nadal in the Indian Wells final (where he became the first American to win the title since Andre Agassi in 2001). A few months later, Fritz continued to shine at Wimbledon before losing a nerve-wracking five-set quarter-final to the 22-time Grand Slam champion on Center Court.
It was a shattering defeat, but the American proved he can push one of the greatest players in tennis history to the limit.
“These guys are so good at slams. But beating them is also beating the name you’re playing against, just believing you can do it,” Fritz said at Wimbledon.
“I think that’s a big hurdle to overcome. I think that’s definitely changed for me lately, which is that I think they’re beatable. But it still takes an insane effort to beat them.”
He would be happy to face Nadal for the third time at the Laver Cup this year.
“I would like to go back on the pitch with him and get another chance,” he says.
“It’s amazing for him to be walking the path he’s got and for as long as he’s done it. It’s crazy that he’s still competing at the absolute highest level.”
According to Fritz, the key to winning the first Laver Cup for Team World is clear: victories on day three when every game is worth three points.
“Every game is important from what I’ve learned, but on the third day you have to win the games,” he explains. “That’s what it’s going to come down to.”
How it is going
Despite a foot injury that sidelined Fritz for most of the clay court season and hampered his off-court training, Fritz has won a total of 35 games leading to the Laver Cup.
He added a third career title at Eastbourne before Wimbledon, where he reached his first major quarterfinal, and he also reached the last eight at the Cincinnati Masters by defeating No. 8 Andrey Rublev in the round of 16.
Play at the Laver Cup
In his second Laver Cup overall appearance, Fritz wants to turn the script around: “It must be our time,” he says about the 0:4 balance. “It’s been a while and I think it’s finally here – we need that win. We’ve waited long enough.”
Fritz knows he may need to conjure the kind of magic he pulled off against Nadal at Indian Wells – and he wouldn’t mind a third career meeting against Roger Federer either.
“I’d like to play Fed,” admits Fritz. “I played Roger twice and never beat him. I’d like to try it.”
Fritz anticipates the roaring welcome Team Europe will receive from the O2 crowd but says it will not be intimidating – on the contrary – invigorating.
“It’s going to be amazing to see how the crowd reacts to these guys being called out,” he says. “It’s exciting for us. It might be more intimidating if it wasn’t a team atmosphere, but I’ve got a whole team behind me.”
This team atmosphere, led by Captain John McEnroe, is something Fritz enjoys and he can’t wait to be a part of it again.
“[Laver Cup] is unlike anything you feel on tour when you play alone. You play for the team,” he says. “You get pumped up, but you get to feed off the team because they want it as much as you do. That makes it that much more special to be in the competitive team format.”