2022 ATP Finals, Day 5: Taylor Fritz, Rajeev Ram seal semifinal spots
Two Americans will be working through the weekend in Turin, after Taylor Fritz and Rajeev Ram earned pivotal wins on Thursday to secure semifinal berths at the 2022 ATP Finals.
Fritz outlasted Felix Auger-Aliassime in a winner-takes-all Green Group finale, earning 7-6(4), 6-7(5), 6-2 victory to extend his debut at the prestigious year-end event. In doubles, Ram and Great Britain's Joe Salisbury edged Roland Garros champs Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer, 3-6, 7-6(4), [10-5], to complete a perfect 3-0 campaign in the Red Group.
Fritz's dream debut
After a win against Rafael Nadal and a narrow defeat to Casper Ruud, Fritz entered Day 5 with a very clear mission: win and advance to the semifinals.
There was no need to consider any tiebreaker scenarios in the group standings, his evening matchup against Auger-Aliassime essentially serving as a quarterfinal. But there were tiebreaks on the court, as neither man dropped serve across two high-quality sets.
After taking the opener, Fritz saved three break points early in set two and later found himself two points from victory at 5-5 in the breaker. With the pressure turned up, Auger-Aliassime did just enough to force a deciding set.
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Once there, it was all Fritz. The American raced through the finish line and into the knockout rounds by winning the final four games of the match, wrapping it up after two hours, 44 minutes.
The last man into the elite eight-man field in Turin—following the injury withdrawal of Carlos Alcaraz—Fritz has made the most of his opportunity.
“It is huge,” he said of his accomplishment. “From possibly not even qualifying to now be in the semis feels great. I felt like I was going to play well here. I feel that I always play my best tennis against the best players.”
Ram returns to semis
Ram and Salisbury walked onto the court Thursday night knowing one set would be enough to advance to the semifinals. Arevalo and Rojer neared the straight-sets win they needed to progress themselves, but the American-British duo never trailed in the second-set tiebreak as they confirmed their final four place for the third straight year at the ATP Finals.
Not content with that success, they raced to a 6-1 lead in the match tiebreak en route to the win, completing an undefeated round-robin run.
“It was pretty tense,” Ram said post-match. “It is not often that you are in those kind of situations where you just need to win a set to advance. I think we did a really good job handling it and got better as the match went on.”
Finalists last year in Turin, Ram and Salisbury hope to go one step further to cap a strong season in which they claimed the titles at the US Open, Cincinnati and Monte Carlo.
On Friday in Northern Italy, American Austin Krajicek will return to the court with doubles partner Ivan Dodig as the pair seeks its first win of the week against the world No. 1 team of Neal Skupski and Wesley Koolhof. Krajicek and Dodig need a win combined with a victory for Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic against Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis to stand a chance of progressing out of the Green Group.