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Fritz gets past Rinderknech–and the crowd–at French Open

Leave it to the French fans to turn an otherwise nondescript four-set match into one of the most memorable moments of the French Open so far.

Any French player, man or woman, always inspires a ton of crowd support at this event. But Thursday’s round-two encounter between Taylor Fritz and Arthur Rinderknech had even more factors in play. It went will into the night because it was on Court Suzanne Lenglen and followed Daniel Altmaier’s five-hour and 26-minute victory over Jannik Sinner, so the adult beverages had plenty of time to flow. Additionally, Rinderknech was a heavy underdog who was always going to need the crowd behind him. As if all of that wasn’t enough, he was the last Frenchman remaining in the draw.

After the 78th-ranked Rinderknech surprisingly dominated the first set 6-2, the atmosphere reached another level–Davis Cup-like, in fact.

“I will say first of all how good it was to play tonight in front of this French crowd,” Rinderknech went on to say at the start of his post-match press conference. “It felt like…even though I don’t know this feeling…but it felt like an old Davis Cup match.

“So it was really unbelievable for me.”

It was not unbelievable for Fritz.

Despite all of the support for his opponent and wild celebrations for his own errors and even in between first and second serves, the American kept his cool from start to finish and recovered from the slow start to get the job done 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and 50 minutes.

Only then did Fritz let it all out, giving the fans the business for more than minute following match point–complete with taunting, shushing, and welcoming more booing. They certainly complied, to the extent that Fritz’s on-court interview with Marion Bartoli was delayed by several minutes amidst all the tomfoolery. And when the interview finally got underway, it lasted only one question–which incited a sarcastic reply from Fritz.

“The crowd was so great, honestly,” he quipped. “The crowd was just so great that I had to let it fire me up. They cheered so well for me, I had to make sure I won.”

Fritz won–and he made sure everyone knew it, too. His social media influencer girlfriend Morgan Riddle posted a video of Fritz walking through the hallways of Roland Garros with a finger to his mouth. Fritz then posted that silencer emoji on Twitter.

Will Fritz have to silence the crowd again on Saturday? Maybe not, as third-round opponent Francisco Cerundolo hails from Argentina–not France. Then, again maybe he will. Sure enough, Fritz will be back out on court Suzanne Lenglen. And with no more Frenchmen in the draw, the fans just may decide to adopt Cerundolo as one of their own.


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.