Taylor Fritz stunned the tennis world by reaching his first ATP Masters 1000 final on Sunday, defeating seventh seed Andrey Rublev 7-5, 6-4 in the BNP Paribas Open semi-finals. On Monday, the home favourite will face Rafael Nadal of Spain in arguably the most important match of his career. Fritz, a native of California, is the first man from his home country to reach the Indian Wells final since John Isner in 2012. The American had never reached an ATP Masters 1000 semi-final when he arrived in the desert for the event last October. He reached the semi-finals in 2021, and he is now 9-1 in the last six months at Indian Wells, including a 3-0 record against Top 10 opponents.
Fritz won a battle for the baseline against Rublev’s big-hitting game to earn his biggest win on the Tour in his six years on the circuit. After missing an opportunity to serve out the first set at 5-2, it appeared that the match was slipping away from him. He never panicked, however, and continued to play aggressively throughout, eventually eliminating Rublev after one hour and 50 minutes.
“It’s just unreal, really. It doesn’t even seem real. I’m just trying to take in the moment, regroup and come back tomorrow for the final,” Fritz said after the match. “But it’s a dream come true.”
“Today I definitely played my best match of the tournament so far. I was so much more aggressive from the ground and so much more solid [with] my groundstrokes, whereas [in] other matches I was maybe playing a bit safer. I really tried to take it to him and impose my game today. I did it well, so that helped a lot,” the American added.
Rublev hit one of the best reflex volleys you’ll see all year in the final game of the match. However, he missed an easy forehand right on top of the net on the next point. Fritz took advantage of his first match point by crushing a Rublev serve, as he had done throughout the match.
“It’s amazing. Just the support I got today, the crowd was so amazing and they really pushed me on,” Fritz said. “I wouldn’t be able to do it if I didn’t have all the support here, so thank you.”