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Taylor Fritz working overtime to make another run at Indian Wells BNP tennis Masters

Taylor Fritz of the United States reacts to his victory against Alex De Minaur of Australia during the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, USA, 16 March 2022. The tennis tournament runs from 07-20 March 2022. EPA-EFE/RAY ACEVEDO

By Ricky Dimon

The 2021 BNP Paribas Open was the best tournament of Taylor Fritz’s career. He advanced to the semifinals of a Masters 1000 for the first time ever.

But there is still a bit of unfinished business for the California kid. After all, even though the result last fall was a good one it was also an opportunity that slipped away. Fritz faced Nikoloz Basilashvili in the semis–as good of a draw as you could hope for–and would have gone up against Cameron Norrie in the final. No Novak Djokovic. No Rafael Nadal. No Roger Federer. Not even Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, or Andrey Rublev. The Indian Wells title was very much there for the taking.

Five months later, the door is once again open for Fritz. And so far he is capitalizing.

In a half of the draw vacated by Djokovic (withdrew) and Zverev (lost to Tommy Paul in the second round), the world No. 20 has made a return trip to the quarterfinals. Following a 6-1, 6-1 beatdown of Kamil Majchrzak, Fritz survived consecutive contests in third-set tiebreakers. He held off Jaume Munar 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(2) during third-round action and then outlasted Alex de Minaur 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(5) on Wednesday afternoon.

Taylor Fritz of the United States in action at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. The tennis tournament runs from 07-20 March 2022. EPA-EFE/RAY ACEVEDO

“I think just having more confidence in a lot of my shots, just playing better, believing that I’m a better tennis player,” Fritz said when asked about why he has been winning those kinds of matches more consistently of late. “I think that gives me the confidence to play these situations better. It’s not any kind of a mental change. I’ll still get nervous. Everyone chokes sometimes, sometimes I blow matches, and sometimes I come up clutch in matches. I think I’ve been coming out on these matches a little more often, just because I have more confidence in my game. I have more confidence in my shots.

“So when it comes to crunch time, I feel like I can kind of trust what I want to do, trust my game.

“I don’t know (why I get nervous). It comes and goes. Probably just losing a match that I feel like I should win–I would say that’s the most pressure; high-pressure moments in tennis [are] kind of like just losing a match that you should probably win or should win or you’re in a winning position. But I’ve gotten a lot better at just taking care of those situations. Like I said, the match with de Minaur would be one of those situations where I could see myself being really, really nervous because I don’t want to lose that match. But I came up really solid in the third-set breaker.”

The 24-year-old’s reward is a quarterfinal matchup with unseeded Miomir Kecmanovic on Friday. It was expected that world No. 6 Matteo Berrettini would be the opponent, but he went down to Kecmanovic 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-4 on Thursday.

Yes, opportunity knocks again for Fritz. This time, he just might go all the way.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.