Fritz Fends Off Match Points In Memphis
Conjuring memories of a maiden run to an ATP World Tour final 12 months ago, Taylor Fritz is again tasting success at the Memphis Open. The #NextGenATP player saved three match points in his opening round to take down No. 8 seed Yen-Hsun Lu 4-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(7) in a thrilling two-hour, 10-minute affair on Tuesday.
The 19-year-old did not break serve throughout and was forced to fend off three match points in the deciding-set tie-break before he clinched the match on his first. Australian qualifier Matthew Ebden is next.
“It was tough. I was just thinking, don’t think about it,” Fritz said. “These are the moments I play for, these pressure moments. They’re my favourite things about the sport.
“One of them [a match point], he was just pounding the forehands and I was just like thinking during the point one of these he’s just going to finish me. Sometimes you just find a way and you can’t explain it.”
Last year, Fritz entered the event as a wild card and went all the way to the final before a defeat to Kei Nishikori. It was just his third tour-level event.
“I really didn’t want to lose in the first round,” he said. “I’m all about progress coming back to a tournament I played the year before and wanting to do just as well or better.”
Fellow American #NextGenATP player Frances Tiafoe was not so fortunate. Tim Smyczek defeated the 19-year-old 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 in Tuesday night’s last match.
Qualifier Smyczek looked to be cruising with a set and a 5-2 lead in the second set only to lose five straight games to level the match. Tiafoe, currently at a career-best No. 91 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, continued the momentum swing in his favour when he broke for 2-1 in the deciding set, before his countryman steadied to book a second-round meeting with No. 4 seed Steve Johnson.
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