Taylor Fritz came out firing in the biggest match of his blossoming career, racing to a 4-0 lead against Rafael Nadal in the BNP Paribas Open final. Setting an aggressive tone from the first ball, Fritz had no trouble seeing home the advantage to take a a 6-3 first set in 39 minutes.
Nadal left the court for a medical timeout following the set, perhaps feeling the effects of his three-set battle with Carlos Alcaraz on Saturday evening. The Spaniard is seeking a record-tying 37th ATP Masters 1000 title while also bidding to extend his perfect 20-0 record and claim his fourth tour-level title of the 2022 season.
Fritz, playing in his first Masters 1000 final, has the opportunity to become the first American men’s champion at Indian Wells since Andre Agassi in 2001. At 24, he can also become the youngest Indian Wells men’s champ since Novak Djokovic in 2011.
The 20th seed came out with an attacking game plan that was aided by a heavy helping of second serves from Nadal early on. Powering through windy conditions — though nothing as severe as Saturday night — the American took the initiative from the start and scored a break on his fourth break point of the opening game. Similar tactics earned him a second straight break, both consolidated with love holds.
Fritz won half (16/32) of his points on the return in the set, according to Infosys ATP Stats, breaking in three of five return games.
Nadal created and converted his first break point of the opener to close to 5-3, but Fritz answered back with the help of some Nadal errors to seal the set on the return.
The American’s preparations for the final were interrupted when he stopped his first warmup short because of an ankle problem, stemming from a tweak late in his semi-final win against Andrey Rublev. He returned for a second warm-up at 2 p.m. local time, hitting for 25 minutes ahead of the scheduled 3 p.m. start.
More to follow…