In his very young career, 18-year-old American Taylor Fritz has scored a lot of “firsts” and “youngest” tags: first American male in a decade to sit atop the world junior rankings, youngest American to win a Challenger-level event since 2007 (saving 34 of 37 break points on the way), to name just a couple.
Born to professional tennis player parents; mother Kathy May Fritz was ranked in the WTA’s Top 10, reaching the quarters at three majors, while father Guy Fritz also played on the ATP tour and is now a tennis coach), Fritz has been playing tennis since the age of 2.
While sharing the big serve, big forehand skill set of young American players led by John Isner and Jack Sock, Fritz has differentiated himself with an all-court, all-surfaces game (reaching the junior French Open Final last year and winning the US Open juniors). More impressively, he’s seamlessly transitioned to the men’s tour, moving up more than 600 spots in just over a year to a career high of 53 last August.
Highlights of 2016 for Fritz include qualifying for his first major at the Australian Open and becoming the youngest American to reach an ATP final (Memphis) since Michael Chang, losing a close match to Kei Nishikori in just his 3rd career ATP tournament.
That effort helped vault him into the Top 100 at 18 years, four months, where he is still the youngest player and the only player under 19 in the Top 100. In this, his first full year on the men’s tour, Fritz also made two other quarterfinals, Acapulco and Atlanta, while playing against NextGen-ers at both events. He also came close to scoring upsetting legendary Roger Federer in Stuttgart.
At 193cm (6’4”), Fritz doesn’t run as much as he lopes around the court. Not content to simply rely on his bread-and-butter 210kph (130 mph) serve, he’s talked about needing to add more muscle to his lanky frame to better compete day in and day out with his faster, stronger opponents.
At the Shanghai Rolex Masters, where he earned his way into the main draw through qualifying, Fritz spoke of his transition to the men’s game.
He said: “The Tour is a totally different thing to Challengers and you’ve got to be ready when you first come on to take some first-round losses and lose a lot of tough ones. Most people who have had success at Challengers and success in juniors, are not used to constantly going out in first and second rounds of tournaments. But I think I’m finally finding myself on the tour.”