2022 ATP Finals, Day 7: Ram reaches title match, Fritz falls to Djokovic
On semifinal Saturday at the ATP Finals, Rajeev Ram scored a big win while Taylor Fritz was edged by Novak Djokovic in two tight sets.
Ram and doubles partner Joe Salisbury returned to the Turin final for the second straigh year with a 7-6(7), 6-4 win against world No. 1 doubles team of Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski. Fritz, up against former No. 1 Novak Djokovic, put forth a strong effort but was ultimately turned back, 7-6(5), 7-6(6).
Ram returns to final
One year after final heartbreak in Turin, Ram and Salisbury earned another opportunity to play for the title at the season finale.
The second seeds needed seven set points to clinch the opening set against Koolhof and Skupski, seeing one go begging on return at 5-4 and another five saved in the tiebreak, which they led 6-2 before winning it 9-7.
One break was enough to decide set two, with Ram and Salisbury saving the only break point against them. Ram was particularly effective on the return in the semifinal, firing several backhand winners at key moments.
”It is something I have worked really hard on,” Ram said of his return game. “It is huge to keep in games and matches and I think it is my most improved area, so I am happy it paid off today.”
The pair will face Croatians Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic in Sunday's final, in a rematch of the 2021 semis in Turin.
Fritz gives Djokovic scare
In the singles semifinals, Fritz battled back from a break down in the opening set and led 5-3 in the second but ultimately dropped two tiebreaks by razor-thin margins, unable to record his first win against Djokovic.
Despite the narrow defeat, the 25-year-old can look back on his ATP Finals debut with great pride. The last man into the Turin field, after the injury withdrawal of Carlos Alcaraz, Fritz notched wins against Rafael Nadal and Felix Auger-Aliassime to advance out of the group stage.
“I absolutely feel like I belong,” the American said in a post-match press conference, his semifinal showing cementing his position at a career-high ranking of No. 9.
“I think that I've proved that I belong in the Top 10 and I belong here [at the ATP Finals]. I just need to keep working hard.
“Fortunately for me, I think there's a lot of positives to take out of this year, where I finished [in the rankings]. I finished where I did and I missed pretty much the whole clay-court season, didn't have any training going into the beginning of the hard-court season. I was dealing with injuries and I still was able to produce a really solid year. I'm just excited to get back to work and keep improving.
"Next year, [I will] look to cement my spot even more.”
The American's breakout year included three titles, highlighted by the biggest trophy of his career at Indian Wells in his native Southern California. He also triumphed in Easbourne and Tokyo, and reached his first Grand Slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon.