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2022 ATP Finals, Day 1: Fritz powers past Nadal in dream debut; Ram also wins

Arthur Kapetanakis | November 13, 2022


Taylor Fritz rocketed to the top of his group at the Nitto ATP Finals with a statement win over Rafael Nadal on Sunday in Turin. Making his debut at the ATP Tour's season finale, the American powered to a 7-6(3), 6-1 victory—his second win against the Spaniard this season.

Fritz was in control throughout the match and did not face a break point as he once again proved he belongs with the game's elite. The world No. 9 stormed out to a 3-0 lead in the first-set tiebreak before racing through the finish line by winning the final five games of the set two.

 

"It feels great. I felt like coming out first match, especially for my hopes of getting out of the group, it was going to be really important," said Fritz, who also beat Nadal to win the Indian Wells title in March and is now 2-2 against the Spaniard all time.

 

"I didn't want to put myself in a position where I needed to win out if I wanted to move on. I came out and played a great match, and I couldn't be happier."

Dictating play throughout with his serve and forehand, the American put the match beyond doubt by converting on his sixth break point of a marathon game late to move ahead 5-1 in the second set.

 

The dominant victory moved Fritz ahead of Casper Ruud and into first place in the Green Group. Ruud, a finalist at the 2022 US Open, defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime, 7-6(4), 6-4, earlier on Sunday.

 

As the first American singles player to compete at the year-end event since John Isner in 2018, Fritz is in a strong position to match Jack Sock's  2017 run to the London semifinals. Pete Sampras was the last American singles champion at the season finale, in 1999 in Hanover, while James Blake reached the 2006 final in Shanghai.

 

Fritz was not the only American winner on Day 1 in Turin.

 

In the doubles event, Rajeev Ram and partner Joe Salisbury also made a winning start in a 6-3, 6-7(8), [10-8] thriller against seventh seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos.

 

After seeing two match points go begging from 6-4 in the second-set tiebreak, Ram and Salisbury regrouped to win the match in dramatic fashion, claiming the final two points of the match tiebreak from 8-8.

 

The reigning US Open champions are bidding to return to the Turin finals after finishing as runners-up in 2021 in the event's first year in Northern Italy.

 

Day 2 in Turin sees the third American in the field, Austin Krajicek, take the court for his ATP Finals debut. He and Croatian partner Ivan Dodig are seeded No. 5 in the doubles event, and will face No. 4 seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic in their first round-robin match.

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