Fritz Edges Through In Vienna, Boosts Turin Hopes
Taylor Fritz boosted his Nitto ATP Finals qualification chances on Monday when he earned a comeback victory against Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna.
The American was two points from defeat in the second-set tie-break and trailed Nishioka 1-3 in the third set before he won the final five games of the match to advance 6-7(4), 7-6(7), 6-3.
With his two-hour, 45-minute win, eighth-placed Fritz has climbed to 2,910 points in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin. The 24-year-old trails seventh-placed Felix Auger-Aliassime by 315 points, with the Canadian in action in Basel this week.
Fritz is aiming to make his debut at the prestigious end-of-year event, to be held at the Pala Alpitour in Turin from 13-20 November. Rafael Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz, Casper Ruud, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Novak Djokovic have all already qualified.
Fritz, who has won three tour-level titles this season, is the fourth seed at the ATP 500 event in Vienna and will next play Austrian wild card Jurij Rodionov or Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the second round.
Third seed Andrey Rublev also advanced on Monday with a 6-4, 6-1 victory against Diego Schwartzman. Four days after his 25th birthday, Rublev saved three break points as he served out the opening set before cruising through the second. He will face either Grigor Dimitrov or qualifier Thiago Monteiro next.
Rublev can clinch his third straight appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals with a deep run this week, depending on other results. He currently sits sixth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, with a Top-7 place needed to guarantee qualification for the season finale.
In other action, Karen Khachanov moved past American qualifier J.J. Wolf 7-6(4), 7-5, while Cincinnati champion Borna Coric defeated French qualifier Quentin Halys 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. Khachanov will next meet German lucky loser Oscar Otte or Briton Daniel Evans, with Coric facing second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas or Austrian wild card Dennis Novak.