Preview: Fritz Vows Relentless Attack Against Nadal
The Wimbledon quarter-final action rounds out Wednesday when Rafael Nadal, Taylor Fritz, Nick Kyrgios and Cristian Garin take to the lawns at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in pursuit of a final-four spot.
Nadal and Fritz will meet for the first time since their championship match clash at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in March. The American ran out a straight-sets winner on that occasion as the Spaniard struggled with a fractured rib, but second seed Nadal has the added motivation of maintaining his perfect Grand Slam record for 2022 as the two face off at the grass-court major.
Kyrgios and Garin each came through five-set thrillers in the fourth round in London, and the pair's maiden ATP Head2Head meeting sees both players hunting their first Grand Slam semi-final appearance.
ATPTour.com looks at the quarter-final action set for Day 9 in the British capital.
 Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs.  Taylor Fritz (USA)
Nadal’s defeat to Fritz in Indian Wells is one of the few disappointments in what has been a stellar 2022 season for the Spaniard. With a 34-3 match record for the year and four titles including Grand Slam crowns at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, he sees no reason to dwell on his defeat in southern California as he prepares for his eighth Wimbledon quarter-final.
“What I learned [from] that last match [in Indian Wells] was zero, because I had a stress fracture on my rib, and it was difficult to learn many things,” said Nadal after his straight-sets win against Botic van de Zandschulp on Monday. “It's obvious he [Fritz] is playing at a very, very high level, having a great season, winning matches everywhere. The week before Wimbledon he won the tournament [in Eastbourne]. Now [the] quarter-finals [here].”
In contrast, the 11th-seeded Fritz believes his 6-3, 7-6(5) victory at the ATP Masters 1000 event in March is the perfect template as he attempts to move past the Spaniard to his maiden Grand Slam semi-final.
“I was just very aggressive in that match [in Indian Wells],” said Fritz after his dominant straight-sets win against Jason Kubler in the fourth round at SW19. “[I] took my chances. Against someone like Rafa, that's kind of how it is.
“I feel like decision-making is easy. I don't really second-guess shots like I would if I'm playing someone that I'm supposed to beat. I might think, ‘Should I go for this, should I play it safe?’ Against someone like Rafa, it's easy to always make the aggressive decision and kind of play freer.”
Nadal was solid if not spectacular in four-set wins against Francisco Cerundolo and Ricardas Berankis in his opening two rounds at Wimbledon, where the second seed is playing his first tournament of the year on grass. The two-time champion appeared back to his best on the surface during his next two matches, however, notching straight-sets wins against Lorenzo Sonego and van de Zandschulp to ease to the quarter-finals in his first appearance at SW19 since 2019.
“The improvement during the tournament is there,” said Nadal, who is chasing a record-extending 23rd Grand Slam title. “Of course, I'm happy to be back in the quarter-finals after three years without playing here. It's a positive result for me, so [I am] happy for that. Now is the moment to keep doing the steps forward if I want to keep having chances.”
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After beginning his grass season with opening defeats in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and at The Queen’s Club, Fritz stormed to his third ATP Tour title in Eastbourne just two days before The Championships began. The American has brought that form with him to the lawns of the All England Club, where he has so far dispatched Lorenzo Musetti, Alastair Gray, Alex Molcan and Kubler without dropping a set.
“It's so interesting, because three weeks ago it was a low point for me,” said Fritz, who shares a 1-1 ATP Head2Head record with Nadal. “I kept telling myself that I'll find my tennis. I had to just kind of keep being positive. I was injured, coming back from injury, not playing great. I just remained positive, stuck to the process of working really hard, doing the right things.
“The week of Eastbourne things kind of started clicking for me. Now it is crazy to go from where I was at mentally after Queen's — feeling injured, I'd just lost three matches in a row. Now I'm in my first Slam quarter-final.”
Nick Kyrgios (AUS) vs. Cristian Garin (CHI)
A maiden Grand Slam semi-final appearance is on the line for both Kyrgios and Garin as they meet for the first time at tour-level on No. 1 Court. While the Australian has always enjoyed showcasing his big-serving, power-hitting game on the grass, his opponent on Wednesday admits that it it is only recently that he has learned to love the surface.
“Now [my favourite surface] is grass!” joked Garin, who has won all five of his ATP Tour titles on clay, after his marathon five-set fourth-round win against Alex de Minaur. “Our sport is like that. I work hard every day to get better.
“Last year I [reached the fourth round] here, and I think that was a big experience for me. Today, I felt a different match to last year. I know how to play on these courts, and it is very important to me to keep learning, keep improving, and that is why I work hard every day.”
Garin’s triumph on Monday against De Minaur made him just the fourth Chilean man to reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon. The 26-year-old holds a modest 16-15 record in 2022, including a five-match losing streak from January to March, but his coach Pepe Vendrell has no doubts over his charge’s ability.
“He is a thoroughbred,” Vendrell told ATPTour.com in London. “Garin is a player with huge potential. He’s already proved his quality on tour. When he’s confident, with his A-game, his shots are pure quality.”
The man on the other side of the net on Wednesday certainly knows a thing or two about quality shots. One of the game's great showmen, Kyrgios has a Tour-leading 11 wins on grass in 2022, two more than Garin has across his career, after semi-final runs in Stuttgart and Halle. If he can make that experience on the surface count on Wednesday, he will be the first Australian male player to reach the semi-finals of a Grand Slam since Lleyton Hewitt at the 2005 US Open.
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|Tim van Rijthoven
Kyrgios will be making his third Grand Slam quarter-final appearance. With a 35-17 career record on grass, the 27-year-old will hope to extend his strong record on the surface as he seeks to break through to a maiden major semi-final in London.
“I look at it as a big opportunity,” said Kyrgios after he outlasted #NextGenATP American Brandon Nakashima in a five-set thriller in the fourth round on Monday. “Garin is obviously playing great tennis. I walked on Centre Court today seeing the score [was] two-sets-to-love [to] De Minaur. They were in a battle. I was expecting to play Alex, I think Alex is a bit more comfortable on the grass. Then when I walked off the court and I got told it was Garin. It was surprising.
“I look at it as an opportunity, but I need to do so many things before that match to get ready," said Kyrgios. "I need to rest, recover, eat right, get good sleep. There's so many things, so many steps before I go out there and compete again."