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Tennis News: Red-hot Fritz keeps rolling to continue an inspired American surge at Wimbledon

By Ricky Dimon

With Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal still a part of an otherwise depleted men’s singles field at Wimbledon, no American is likely to be bringing the trophy back home. Nonetheless, the United States contingent is making some serious noise at the All-England Club and based on how the draw looks that could be the case for a while.

Although John Isner’s upset of Andy Murray on Wednesday night has been the most notable U.S. result, nobody has been hotter than Taylor Fritz–both right now and throughout the 2022 campaign as a whole. The reigning Indian Wells champion is coming off another title on the grass courts of Eastbourne and so far in SW19 he has not dropped a single set. Fritz followed up a 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 rout of Lorenzo Musetti by beating Alastair Gray 6-3, 7-6(3), 6-3 on Thursday. 

The world No. 14’s second-round performance was complete with arguably the shot of the tournament, a diving forehand winner on set point at 6-3 in the second-set tiebreaker. In fact, Gray was already celebrating what he thought was a winning volley before Fritz came up with heroics that were even featured on SportsCenter.

“(It was the) first thing I looked at when I got off the court,” Fritz said when asked during his press conference if he had watched it yet. “Yeah, that was insane. I mean, it was a huge point, obviously. I hit the backhand (down the) line, saw him reaching…obviously he hit a good volley cross-court. It bounced up a bit, and I thought–you know, I heard the crowd cheering like the point was over–but I was, like, ‘I think if I fully lay out for this one, I’m pretty long.’ I was, like, ‘I feel if I just dive at this one and fully lay out, maybe I can get a racket on it.’

“So, yeah, just dove and hit my strings like right in the middle. It felt really good. That’s got to be [the No. 1 shot in my career]–especially just the moment, as well. It’s a huge set point; really, really big point to do it on–just to go full dive and hit the winner.

“I didn’t realize he was already fist-pumping. I saw it on the replay. I thought that was funny. I didn’t realize that he had already thought the point was over. I just thought he hit the volley and because he was kind of moving that way that he was off the court anyways. I didn’t know he actually just fully thought the point was over.”

The tournament is also over for six other players who had to face American men in the second round. That includes 2021 semifinalist Denis Shapovalov, who fell to Brandon Nakashima 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(6) on Thursday afternoon. Along with Fritz, Isner, and Nakashima, round three at Wimbledon also includes Jenson Brooksby, Frances Tiafoe, Steve Johnson, and Tommy Paul. Either Jack Sock or Maxime Cressy will join them in the last 32 when their all-American showdown concludes on Friday.

Amazingly, five Americans await unseeded opponents in the third round. It’s Fritz vs. Alex Molcan, Nakashima vs. Daniel Elahi Galan, Brooksby vs. Cristian Garin, Tiafoe vs. Alexander Bublik, and Paul vs. Jiri Vesely.

“It’s great,” Fritz said of American success. “We don’t have what everyone’s kind of looking for in terms of like the World No. 1 or the Grand Slam champion, but we have so much depth–like so much more depth than I think we have ever had. We have so many guys seeded in the top 32, so many guys making (the) second (or) third round.

“Probably soon we are going to have a lot of guys contending (in the) second week (of) slams; quarterfinals, stuff like that. The good news is the majority of the (USA) field is younger. We are only going to keep improving.”

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