Boom & Bust: Fritz Says Volatility Has Its Rewards
Stock market investors looking to build long-term wealth are routinely told that smooth, consistent results over time will deliver better returns than making frequent trades chasing a home run. Time in the market is more important than timing the market, they say.
Tennis, however, has a way of rewarding volatility, and players typically have a 52-week time horizon (for rankings purposes) rather than a multi-year focus. Get hot during a few key weeks of the year and you can walk away with big paydays and a bunch of Pepperstone ATP Rankings points critical for tournament entry, seedings and year-end contract bonuses.
In 2022, Taylor Fritz caught fire at key moments and won three titles, including his first ATP Masters 1000 crown in Indian Wells and the ATP 500 in Tokyo (on the back of a week of hotel isolation due to Covid-19 protocols). He also qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals.
In 2023 the Californian is on pace to top the 46-match wins tally of last season, but he has just one title to show for his year and he has some work to do to hold onto his place in the Top 10 after reaching a career-high No. 5 in March. Boasting 34 wins year to date, Fritz has gone deep in many tournaments, but has reached just one final, at February’s Delray Beach Open, which marked his fifth career crown.
“The Tour doesn't reward consistency as much as it does kind of going boom or bust, winning titles and losing in the first round,” Fritz said.
“I started this year pretty strong and I’ve had more consistent results than last year. I've put myself a lot deeper in a lot of tournaments this year but I’ve just kind of let some matches slip away that I maybe didn’t let happen last year… if I won a couple of matches I would just go on and win the tournament, which is very rewarding rankings-wise."
As he begins his North American hard-court campaign at the Atlanta Open, the 25-year-old sits ninth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin. He is setting himself for a big push to gather points during one of his favourite swings of the year to strengthen his claim for a place at the Nitto ATP Finals for the second consecutive year.
“I'm nine in the Race, which is pretty encouraging because I feel like I've underperformed a lot and can do way better,” the Netflix Break Point star said. “With the many big matches I've lost, I think it's encouraging for the rest of the year.
“I just need to play stronger in the big moments in the big matches. I'm just kind of just letting those get away from me.
“Success can come at random times. My biggest points tournament so far this year is Monte-Carlo on clay, which I wouldn’t expect. Obviously hard courts are very good for me. It’s going to take a big result, perhaps a final or a win at a Masters 1000 or a title in Washington and Atlanta to push higher. That’s what I’m looking for.”
Fritz’s recent run during the grass season, where he won just two of five matches, has marked the only time during his 2023 campaign that he has suffered a string of early-round defeats. But after a strong training block after Wimbledon, Fritz is well positioned to do some damage during the hard-court swing according to coach Michael Russell.
"We're looking to have a good hard-court season coming up. He trained really hard after Wimbledon, and I think that's given him a lot of motivation,” Russell said.
"On the grass the margins are so fine; a few of the matches he lost were so close. It can come down to a couple of tie-breaks and a couple of shots. But in general, I feel that he's been playing well and his fitness is getting better, which is the main thing. He needs to be stronger, more explosive."
Top-seeded Fritz plays his opening-round match at the Atlanta Open Thursday against China’s Wu Yibing.