BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells
[CR80] Taylor Fritz (USA) vs. [CR177] Frances Tiafoe (USA)
It was a much-anticipated first round match between two future American Stars. This was their first meeting as professionals. They are two teenagers separated in age by a few months. They both serve big and have huge forehands; however, advantage goes to Tiafoe who is a very good mover and has more work on his ball. Who would come out the victor? Fritz had never beaten Tiafoe in their junior careers, got off to a slow start, and lost the first set pretty easily. However, he fought back in the second and won it after Tiafoe seemed to lose his focus a bit. It looked like the momentum had swung to Fritz’s side; yet, Tiafoe was not deterred. Fritz started to struggle on serve in the third and it was only a matter of time before Tiafoe took advantage. Although Fritz had break chances to get back in the match, he could not capitalize.
Is Fritz feeling the pressure of expectation? Despite the crop of talented young American male players coming up, Fritz is the front-runner at a career high ranking of number 80. If that is not enough to overwhelm him, he got to his first Final of an ATP Tour event faster than anyone ever had. Then add the fact that he’s still only 18 years old and you can begin to appreciate how much pressure he has to deal with. Tiafoe had nothing to lose going into this match; despite his talent, he was not the favorite. That worked in his favor as it allowed him to hit out on his groundstrokes and play his game. Despite a transient loss of focus, he recovered very nicely to upset his good friend in three sets. With the 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 victory, he will play David Goffin in the next round. How far will Tiafoe go?