McDonald Upsets Defending Champion Fritz In Eastbourne

Kecmanovic, Barrere also advance at ATP 250
June 28, 2023
Glyn Kirk/AFP via Getty Images
Mackenzie McDonald celebrates after downing his countryman Taylor Fritz on Wednesday in Eastbourne. By ATP Staff

An all-Californian clash on the English south coast went the way of Mackenzie McDonald on Wednesday in Eastbourne, where the World No. 64 downed top seed and defending champion Taylor Fritz at the Rothesay International.

McDonald recovered a break deficit in both sets to clinch a 7-6(3), 7-6(8) second-round victory at the grass-court ATP 250. His two-hour, 21-minute upset of the World No. 9 Fritz was McDonald’s third against an opponent in the Top 10 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, and his second of 2023 after he defeated then-World No. 2 Rafael Nadal at January’s Australian Open.

“It’s a big win for me,” said McDonald in his on-court interview. “Taylor’s a close friend, and it’s always tough playing your friends. It was a battle out there. I’m happy with how I competed and I think I put on a show today, so it was really fun.”

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The 28-year-old McDonald stayed cool under pressure to triumph in his third Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting with Fritz, who lifted the trophy in Eastbourne in 2019 as well as 2022. McDonald rallied from 2-5 in the first set and 2-4 in the second, and was forced to save two set points in the second-set tie-break before sealing his spot in his fourth ATP Tour quarter-final of the year.

“[I was] a little bit [calm], but also stressed too,” said McDonald, when asked about how he had retained his composure at tight moments against Fritz. “Tennis isn’t all fun and games sometimes, but I tried to have more of a relaxed mindset today. I felt that a bit, and I think that really helped me.”

McDonald, who is making his debut in Eastbourne this week, will take on Mikael Ymer in the last eight after the Swede defeated home favourite Liam Broady 6-2, 6-4. Defeat in Eastbourne means that 2022 Wimbledon quarter-finalist Fritz heads to this year’s edition of the London major with a 2-3 record on grass for 2023.

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Two of McDonald’s fellow Americans joined him in the last eight on Wednesday. Second seed Tommy Paul held off a Sebastian Baez comeback for a 6-1, 7-6(7) second-round victory. Paul led 6-1, 5-3 but needed a second-set tie-break to complete his win and reach the Eastbourne quarter-finals for the second consecutive year.

Paul’s next opponent will be his countryman J.J. Wolf, who downed #NextGenATP Frenchman Luca Van Assche 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-1.

Eighth seed Miomir Kecmanovic also rode out some tough moments to book his quarter-final spot on Wednesday. The Serbian saved a set point in the first-set tie-break and reeled off four games in a row from 2-4 in the second set for a 7-6(6), 6-4 win against qualifier Aleksandar Vukic. The World No. 41 Kecmanovic will take on Gregoire Barrere next, after the Frenchman upset fifth seed Nicolas Jarry 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

The other second-round winners in Eastbourne on Wednesday were Zhang Zhizhen and Francisco Cerundolo. Zhang countered the serve-and-volley game of Maxime Cressy for a 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 win, while fourth seed Cerundolo downed Marc-Andrea Huesler 7-6(2), 7-6(5).

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