Fritz Edges Murray After Late Drama In Washington
Taylor Fritz extended his winning streak to six matches on the American hard courts with a comeback win against Andy Murray on Friday at the Mubadala Citi DC Open. In a match that was postponed from Thursday evening by rain, the Atlanta champion earned a 6-7,(2), 6-3, 6-4 victory after three hours of action on the stadium court.
Fritz escaped 0/40 in the final game, holding his nerve in several rallies to make good on his break in the previous game. A full-stretch, airborne volley winner brought up his third match point, which he took with a forehand winner.
"I feel like when I'm down those break points, sometimes the opponent might feel some added pressure to it," Fritz said post-match. "Lately I feel like I've been playing those big points even better and just having clarity of knowing what shots I want to hit. It's been feeling great because that's not always the case, so I'm really happy with how I've been playing these big points."
High on quality and excitement, the pair's second Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting proved to be worth the wait, with Fritz's win improving him to 2-0 in their series. The American will not have to wait long for his next match: He will return to the court Friday evening to take on Australia's Jordan Thompson in the quarter-finals — his 11th tour-level quarter-final of the season.
By becoming the fourth player to notch 40 wins this season (40-16), Fritz denied Murray what would have been his first Top 10 win since he beat Stefanos Tsitsipas last June in Stuttgart.
After saving eight break points in his opening win against Zachary Svajda, Fritz saved eight of nine against Murray, including three as he served out the match. The American twice rallied from 0/40 in the second set against Svajda on Wednesday. Prior to D.C., Fritz held serve just once in 13 times facing 0/40 this season.
Fritz hit 17 aces against Murray and on 77 per cent of his first-serve points, but he could not rely solely on power in the slow and humid D.C. conditions.
"I had to come to net, I had to drop shot, and I had to just move the ball way more," Fritz said. "I can't just run around and pull the trigger on one ball and hit a winner like I'm used to. A lot of times you take the chance to be aggressive and it doesn't really accomplish anything, you kind off just have to re-set the point."
Earlier on Friday, Thompson earned his quarter-final place with a 6-2, 6-2 win against Christopher Eubanks, a match that began on Thursday evening before the rain. In the resumption of another suspended match, 12th seed Tallon Griekspoor earned a 6-4, 1-6, 6-3 result against Gael Monfils.
Ninth seed Daniel Evans also advanced to the quarters with a 6-4, 6-3 win against Alexander Shevchenko. He will next face Frances Tiafoe, whose 6-2, 6-3 victory against Chinese qualifier Shang Juncheng completed the Round of 16 action.
The second-seeded Tiafoe saved all four break points against him to reach his sixth tour-level quarter-final of the season. Now 6-6 at his home event, the native of nearby Maryland is through to that stage for the second straight year in D.C.
The 25-year-old will be pleased with his efficiency in the one-hour, 12-minute victory, as he is set to play again on the stadium court Friday evening against Evans.