First-Time Winner Spotlight: Taylor Fritz
American captures maiden tour-level crown in Eastbourne
Four years after making his ATP Tour debut at the Nature Valley International, when the event was held in Nottingham, Taylor Fritz ended his week at the ATP 250 grass-court tournament as the champion.
The 21-year-old American, competing in his second tour-level championship match, defeated countryman Sam Querrey in straight sets to lift his first trophy on the British South Coast. Fritz's maiden ATP Tour championship match came over three years ago at 2016 Memphis, but the American has finally captured his first tour-level crown: one of his major goals for the 2019 season.
ATPTour.com caught up with Fritz after his win...
It was a big surprise when you reached your first final in Memphis, what does it mean to you to win your first title more than three years later?
It's just an amazing feeling. I can't even describe it. After waiting what feels like so long to win a title after almost winning when I was 18, over three years ago, it is just great to finally win.
When you hit the ace on championship point, you threw your racquet and screamed. What were your emotions in that moment?
There was just so much going on. You play the whole match and obviously you're nervous, but I just tried not to think about it and keep my emotions in the whole match. Everything just came out when I hit the serve and knew that I had won.
You and Sam Querrey are both Californians who practise often together and you have played each other five times. Was it difficult to play someone you know so well?
No. We've played lots of times and I got used to playing other Americans in the juniors all the time. I guess it is tough as we both know each other's tricks and what kind of things we like to do on the court. But luckily for me today, I handled everything well and played well.
You become the third current 21-year-old American to own an ATP Tour title, joining Frances Tiafoe and Reilly Opelka. Was there added pressure to join that club?
I wouldn't say added pressure, but maybe added desire to win my first title and be alongside those Americans with titles. It feels really good to be with them now.
In 2016, you reached No. 53 in the ATP Rankings and then fell out of the Top 100. How would you describe your journey to your first ATP title?
It has just been a lot of work. At the end of 2016, I just mismanaged my body and kept playing on an injury. It took me longer to come back and set me back in 2017 and I just wasn't myself. But since 2018, I have felt like I have really done a good job staying healthy. A bit of ankle issues here and there, but [I've] been really on top of it. I am working hard and training hard. What I have thought about is 2017 was the off-year and 2018 is how I felt like I should have continued from 2016. I keep progressing forward and I am more motivated than ever to keep working.
Now that you have won an ATP Tour title, what are your goals for the rest of the season?
One of my biggest goals was to win a title and one of my other goals was to finish the year and be seeded for the Australian Open next year. I just want to keep playing well, I'd love to finish the year [in the] Top 20 and just keep improving my game.