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Fritz Dethrones Two-Time Defending Champion Tsitsipas for Monte-Carlo Semifinal

Taylor Fritz is the first American man since Vince Spadea 20 years ago to reach the Monte-Carlo semifinals. Photo credit: Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters

Red clay has been a massive sinkhole for American men.

Mixing crushing force with clever finesse, Taylor Fritz road tripped the express route to his biggest clay win today—in a triumph he dedicated American Unicorns.

A focused Fritz delivered dynamic attack dismissing two-time defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-4 in a 70-minute sweep to roll into his first Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters semifinal.

“I thought I played really well,” Fritz said. “I guess I had like a strategy in mind of how I wanted to play. In order to I guess implement that strategy required me to be playing well, I guess, you know, changing backhand line and going for, I guess, some line changes that I normally wouldn’t go for, so it required me to play well.

“But I was able to do that, so I was able to I guess play exactly the way I wanted to play and hit the shots that I wanted to hit and kind of how I kind of saw my game plan working out in my head I was actually able to do on the court.”

The 25-year-old Fritz, who grew up playing on Southern California hard courts, is the first American to reach the Monte-Carlo semifinals since noted Break Point author Vince Spadea made the final four 20 years ago.

Collaborating with coach Iron Mike Russell on tactics, Fritz not only came out with the ideal game plan, he executed it almost flawlessly.

Knowing Tsitsipas is at his best dancing to the left of the center stripe to command rallies with his forehand, Fritz boldly attacked the Greek’s best shot with his own forehand crosscourt and some blistering backhands down the line. Those heavy strikes opened space for Fritz, whose two-hander is his most reliable weapon, to attack Tsitsipas’ one-handed backhand. Fritz blitzed out to a 4-0 lead after 16 minutes and never gave it back.

After dissecting Tsitsipas for the first time in four career meetings, Fritz candidly detailed how he did it.

“What makes Stef so tough on any surface is the forehand,” Fritz told Tennis Channel’s Prakash Amritraj afterward. “And what makes him even tougher on clay is the extra time he gets around to attack and it’s tougher to hurt him to the forehand side because he has that extra time to get over there, he moves so well to it.

“I wanted to go early and often backhand line and forehand inside in attacking that side as much as possible to open up space for me to then play heavy, play to the backhand and that was the overall strategy. It requires me to play well to implement because it requires me to go backhand line forehand inside in on more difficult shots I normally wouldn’t go on. But yeah I played really well and I was able to do what I wanted to do.”

Playing with relaxed aggression, Fritz fired his third ace to punctuate his first Top 10 win on clay in six attempts with a statement shot. 

The No. 8-seeded Fritz will play for a place in his first clay-court Masters 1000 when he takes on another jolting forehand in Andrey Rublev tomorrow. Fritz has won four of six meetings vs. Rublev; this will be their first clay clash.