American who stopped Rafael Nadal
It had to happen sooner or later – Rafael Nadal lost. The 35-year-old Spaniard’s 20-match winning streak was interrupted in the final of the Masters at Indian Wells. The American Taylor Fritz, 24, was the next-generation player to defeat the 21-time major winner.
Powerful breakthrough on the pro tour
The California trophy was only the second in the American’s collection. The first one he won in June 2019, when he found no equal at the not-so-status grass tournament in British Eastbourne. On his way to the title, Fritz defeated Hubert Hurkach and Sam Querrey.
A few more times Taylor was literally one step short of victory. In February 2016, the start of his professional career, Fritz reached the finals in Memphis. He failed to surprise Kei Nishikori in the decisive match, but he still made history as the youngest American to reach an ATP tournament final since 1989. At that time Taylor was just over 18.
Even without this achievement, however, Fritz’s first full adult season was powerful. He defeated opponents from the top 100 in the world ranking three times in a year, including Pablo Carreño-Busta and Jérémie Chardy. His Australian Open campaign was also very promising, with Fritz troubling World No. 22 Jack Sock in the first round, dragging his compatriot to a long five-set lead. At the end of the season, the ATP officials recognised Fritz’s efforts, awarding him the “Tomorrow’s Star” award.
Quickly lost his position and took a long time to get it back
However, Taylor failed to establish himself as a future champion. In his second season, his career took a sharp turn and veered off the path to titles. In early 2017, he was still able to hang on to a wave of success: he knocked out Marin Cilic at the Indian Wells Masters and Marcos Baghdatis at the US Open. But for the rest of the season Fritz did not break the bar of the quarterfinals anywhere and fell out of the top 100.
It wasn’t until mid-2018 that Taylor began to regain his lost ground. Alexander Zverev suffered the most from the invigorated Fritz. At Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, the German had to play five games each against the American. And in New York, Zverev lost, allowing his opponent to mount an impressive 0-2 comeback.
In 2019, Fritz also made progress at the Australian Open – in the third round, he shucked his racket only to meet Roger Federer. After a victorious Eastbourne, Taylor played in two more finals, the base ATP-250 category in Atlanta and Mexico’s Los Cabos.
The American returned the next season in the third round of the Australian Open, and in February he reached the final fifty-five for the first time in Acapulco, where he fell short against Nadal.
Defeated Nadal and got rich
Before meeting Nadal in the finals of Indian Wells 2022, Fritz also had to fight with his own body. He twisted his right ankle during a morning training session. His team recommended that he withdraw from the finals, but he turned down the advice and he deserved it.
Taylor entered the new week as the world’s 13th ranked player, a personal best. In addition to the title, defeating Rafa in the deciding match brought him prize money of $ 1.2 million – a whopping sixth of all his earnings in the previous seven years.
However, Fritz has no time to spend money – unless, of course, he wants to be the best player in the family. Taylor is the son of tennis parents. His father coached, and his mother Katie Mae played. In the late ’70s, she reached the quarterfinals of the TBS and stood 10th in the world rankings.
Fritz also began building his family with a tennis player. At 18, he married peer Raquel Pedraza, who had competed in several professional tournaments. The athletes became parents to a boy in 2017, but their marriage broke up soon after.
Taylor’s new girlfriend, Polish-born model Morgan Riddle, is unlikely to beat her boyfriend at tennis, but she has more followers. Morgan’s TikTok account updates are followed by almost 230 thousand users. However, Taylor himself is not far behind his “tiktokershy”: 184,000 people follow him on “Instagram”.