Fritz stops Nadal's winning streak, earns Indian Wells title - GulfToday

Fritz stops Nadal's winning streak, earns Indian Wells title


Taylor Fritz holds and kisses his winners trophy; R: Taylor with his girlfriend Morgan Riddle after his straight sets victory against Rafael Nadal in the men's Final on Sunday. AFP

Hours from playing in the biggest final of his young career, Taylor Fritz was in severe pain. The prospect of having to withdraw against Rafael Nadal nearly had him in tears.

His coach urged him not to potentially risk damaging his sore ankle further. Fritz stubbornly refused to bow out. His faith in himself paid off. Fritz upset Nadel 6-3, 7-6 (5) Sunday to win the BNP Paribas Open and snap the 21-time major champion’s 20-match winning streak this year.

"It was a complete non-issue, didn’t feel it at all, didn’t hinder me at all,” said Fritz, who tweaked his ankle late in his semifinal win over No.7 seed Andrey Rublev. Blue medical tape could be seen above his high sock and he had it numbed before the final. Nadal had his own health issue.

Fritz-Nadal Taylor Fritz holds his winners trophy after his straight sets victory against Rafael Nadal (R). AFP

He came into the match bothered by painful breathing that he first experienced in a three-set semifinal win. He took two medical timeouts during the final. The first one came after he lost the first set. Nadal went inside with a trainer after tapping his upper left chest. He got treatment on court after falling behind 5-4 in the second set.

"When I try to breathe, it’s painful and it’s very uncomfortable. It’s like a needle all the time inside. I get dizzy a little bit because it’s painful. It’s a kind of pain that limit me a lot,” said Nadal, who turns 36 in June.

"The thing that worries me now, it’s about what’s going on there, what I have to do now to recover and how long going to take.”

Nadal’s 20-0 start to the year included the Australian Open, his 21st major championship that broke a tie with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. He also won titles in Melbourne and Acapulco.

"Of course, the last two months have have been amazing, unforgettable, very emotional,” Nadal said. "I enjoy things that I never thought I could live again a few months ago.”

Fritz-IndianWells Taylor Fritz stretches for a return at the net to Rafael Nadal in their ATP Men's Final. AFP

The 24-year-old Californian said that's part of what helped him recover in time for Wimbledon last year after he departed Roland Garros in a wheelchair then underwent surgery to repair damage in his right knee.

"I think I'm an extremely stubborn person," he said of his ability to shake off injury. "I also think I have a very high pain tolerance and not a lot of regard for potentially damaging myself worse if I think there's a chance I can get on the court and play.

"My dad brought me here as a kid," Fritz said. "He told me that I was going to win this tournament one day when I was a little kid. "He was just really, really proud of me," Fritz said of his emotional post-match talk with his parents. "And it's really tough to get a compliment out of him."

Fritz-IndianWellsTrophy Taylor Fritz poses for photos after winning the men's singles final over Rafael Nadal. AP

While Fritz's ankle injury may keep him out of Miami, he believes his Indian Wells win is a step toward his current goal of reaching the top 10.

"This obviously helps a lot," he said. "Obviously I'd love to go way higher than that and achieve way more than that."


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