Taylor Fritz proved that his big game is a perfect fit for Texas after a hugely successful month on the US coasts in March. The World No. 13 American won his first clay-court match of the season on Thursday, defeating Alejandro Tabilo 6-1, 6-4 at the US Men’s Clay Court Championship. Fritz, fresh off his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells and a fourth-round run in Miami, got off to a fast start on the Houston clay, winning the first four games and then closing out the match with his fifth break.
“I felt like tonight was going to be a really tough match, given he’s done really well on clay,” Fritz said after the match. “It was my first match [on clay]. I’m pretty happy with how I played. I can’t complain, I got out of that pretty solid.”
Tabilo, who has only played on clay since February, reached his first ATP Tour final as a qualifier in Cordoba and then advanced to the semi-finals in Santiago. Following a final run at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Santiago in March, he arrived in Houston.
Fritz, on the other hand, dominated the World No. 100 early on, leading by a set and a break before Tabilo made his charge in the second set. The Chilean began to settle in after falling behind 0-3 in the second set, cutting down on his errors to tie the game at 4-4. By reasserting himself and winning the match’s final two games, the American avoided any late drama.
“It’s definitely something I need to bring into my game because I back people up so much on the groundstrokes,” the American added.
Nick Kyrgios continued his hot form from the American hard courts to the red clay in Houston on Tuesday, defeating Mackenzie McDonald 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. The wild card Australian started strong at the US Men’s Clay Court Championship after reaching the quarterfinals in Indian Wells and the fourth round in Miami in the year’s first ATP Masters 1000 events. In what was his first clay appearance since Rome in 2019, Kyrgios took some time to find his footing, playing his unique brand of attacking and entertaining tennis.
“Clay is obviously not my preferred surface, but I just served really well and started playing more aggressive and just found another gear,” the Aussie said after the match. “I did slip and slide a little bit, but my game actually suits the clay quite well. It’s a great atmosphere out here and the crowd’s pretty involved, so I’m looking forward to continuing to progress through the event.”