Taylor Fritz hands Rafael Nadal first loss of 2022 with a win at Indian Wells
The crowd is roaring, as the captivated audience witnessed 24-year-old California native Taylor Fritz defeat one of the greatest tennis players of all time, Rafael Nadal to capture the Indian Wells crown. Nadal could only stand and give his opponent an applause as he stood behind Fritz while he gave his speech on the court with his voice cracking with emotion as he gazed toward his family and team in the stands.
Fritz addressed the crowd on his accomplishment by stating, "Winning this tournament is one of those crazy childhood dreams that you really think is never going to happen,” as tears rolled down his face. “Thank you.”
Fritz’s journey was an interesting one, as he was only once on the ATP Tour prior to Sunday at the 250 level tournament back in Eastbourne in 2019. However, Fritz would prove his naysayers wrong with a magical run at the BNP Paribas that not only included him defeating Nadal, but also included a straight-sets victory over Russian tennis player, Andrey Rublev.
What makes his victory even more impressive is that many wondered if he would be able to play, as he was wincing in pain due to an ankle injury, with his coaches even telling him to withdraw. But he didn’t let that deter him, jumping out to a commanding 4-0 lead over the more experienced, favored Nadal, not losing a single serve point in the opening games. Nadal struggled with breathing and chest pain after the first set, as medical treatment reported.
The second set was even more competitive with Fritz battling for every point, ultimately winning in the tiebreaker. He would fall to the ground in celebration and disbelief as he defeated an icon of the sport.
Fritz would explain to reporters what it meant to beat Nadal by stating, "I think to do it against Rafa in the end, that's like the, I don't know, icing on the cake, It's just insane. Someone that I watched like dominate, win everything. Him and Roger, I grew up, I didn't watch a ton of tennis growing up, but it's tough to not know these guys, knowing they're literally winning everything, their Grand Slam finals, all their battles.”
He continued with, "It's insane to even be on the same court with these people, much less be able to beat one of them, to win such a big tournament. To do it here in Indian Wells, as well, the combination of all these crazy things that I never thought possible."
Fritz became the first American, male or female, to win the title in Indian Wells since Andre Agrassi in 2001, and also the first countryman to do so at any Masters 1000 event since John Isner in Miami in 2018. Fritz raised to the best ranking of his career thus far (No.13) on Monday, overtaking Reilly Opelka as the top-ranked male player from the United States.