Take Five: Taylor Fritz, Maxime Cressy play in all-American Eastbourne final
Welcome to Take Five, a weekly series on USTA.com recapping five of the biggest stories from American tennis over the last week on the professional tennis circuit. In the last week prior to Wimbledon, Taylor Fritz and Maxime Cressy played an all-American final on the lawns in Eastbourne.
1. Fritz beats Cressy in all-American Eastbourne final
A productive week of work in the seaside city of Eastbourne means that Americans Taylor Fritz and Maxime Cressy will be two of the most in-form players at the All-England Club when Wimbledon begins next week: Third-seeded Fritz edged the unseeded Cressy in a third-set tiebreak on Saturday to win the Rothesay International Eastbourne, an ATP 250 event, 6-2, 6-7(4), 7-6(5).
A foot injury curtailed Fritz's clay-court season, contributing to a first-round loss at Roland Garros, and his grass-court summer started with opening losses in 's-Hertogenbosch and at the Queen's Club. However, the Indian Wells champion roared into form in his Eastbourne return, and never lost serve in four victories to win his second title of 2022 and third of his career. He previously won in Eastbourne in 2019.
Prior to the all-American final, Fritz dethroned 2021 champion Alex de Minaur of Australia in a three-set semifinal.
“There is something about this place," Fritz said in his victory speech. "It is where I won my first title and when I got here on the first day this week, I felt that I was playing so much better than before. This place has a special spot in my heart.
“My grass season wasn’t going great before I arrived here. But it is great to beat these players and it gives me confidence. I played really well all week and going into Wimbledon, I feel good.”
To his credit, Cressy reached his second ATP singles final of the season by employing his classic serve-and-volley game to great effect on grass. After beating No. 5 seed and fellow American Reilly Opelka in Round 1, he beat three British players—world No. 33 Dan Evans, top seed and world No. 12 Cameron Norrie and rising 20-year-old Jack Draper—to reach the championship match.
2. Team #OnsRena's Eastbourne campaign ends in semifinals
Nearly a full year after her last competitive match action, Serena Williams will head into Wimbledon this week with two victories under her belt. Williams made her return to tennis in the doubles draw in Eastbourne, where she and Tunisian world No. 3 Ons Jabeur reached the semifinals. The pair were forced to withdraw ahead of their semifinal match against Serbia's Aleksandra Krunic and Poland's Magda Linette when Jabeur suffered a right knee injury.
Read more on usta.com: Serena returns to tennis with win in Eastbourne
Twelve months ago at Wimbledon, Williams left Centre Court in tears after she was forced to retire from her first round match with a leg injury. She says the vibes surrounding her return are much more positive.
"Eastbourne was a good experience. I went into this saying I'd play Eastbourne. I would never be ready for singles, I'll just kind of play doubles and see how I felt. [I] definitely probably could have played singles there," Williams told reporters in her pre-event media availability on Saturday.
"I felt more prepared than I thought I would like a month or two months or three months ago. ... It was kind of surprising, but also it's just a fun time, just to be out there and to enjoy it. Just to be out on the court again was cool."
A wild card into the field this year since her WTA ranking has dropped to outside the Top 1,000 after her period of inactivity, Williams will face 24-year-old Frenchwoman Harmony Tan, ranked No. 113, in Tuesday's first round.
3. Anisimova, Giron, Paul cap Wimbledon prep with quarterfinal runs
Amanda Anisimova, Marcos Giron and Tommy Paul also played well in their last days of Wimbledon preparations. The trio each reached the quarterfinals in their respective events last week, with Anisimova reaching the last eight in Bad Homburg, Giron doing so in Mallorca, and Paul joining Cressy and Fritz in Eastbourne.
Paul upset No. 2 seed Jannik Sinner in Round 2 in Eastbourne before falling to de Minaur, while Giron upset No. 6 seed Botic van de Zandschulp in the opening round in Mallorca, and gave eventual champion and No. 2 seed Stefano Tsitsipas all he could handle in defeat.
4. Harrison to make Wimbledon debut, 10 years after juniors
Ten years ago, a then-18-year-old Catherine Harrison signed to play college tennis at UCLA while in London to compete at junior Wimbledon. The grass-court Grand Slam is doubly significant now for the now 28-year-old: She'll make her singles debut at a major after successfully winning three qualifying matches.
Harrison has excelled in doubles this year, winning her first career WTA doubles title in Monterrey, Mexico in March with compatriot Sabrina Santamaria and making her Grand Slam debut at Roland Garros. But ranked No. 262 in singles, not far off her January career-high of No. 242, she's been searching for a statement result solo.
She found it in Wimbledon qualifying at Roehampton: she didn't lose a set in three matches, knocking off British wild card Eden Silva, No. 17 qualifying seed Ysaline Bonaventure of Belgium and No. 15 qualiying seed Yuan Yue of China to reach the main draw.
“I don’t understand what’s happening," Harrison told wimbledon.com's Reem Abulleil after winning her final qualifying match. "I was an alternate a week ago. This is my goal, this is why I play pro tennis. I can’t believe it, honestly. In singles and doubles, both, oh my God ... 10 years later. It took a decade of work, but I’m here."
Harrison will face Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands in the first round of the main draw.
5. Madison Keys withdraws from Wimbledon
One of the seven American women expected to be seeded at Wimbledon in fact won't be taking part in the action at the All-England Club. 2015 quarterfinalist Madison Keys, who was seeded No. 19 when the women's singles draw was made Friday, announced her withdrawal from the tournament on Saturday due to an abdominal injury. In the interim, Keys had retired from her quarterfinal match against Jelena Ostapenko in Eastbourne with the same injury.
"This isn’t what I was hoping to say a few days before Wimbledon," Keys wrote on Twitter, "but unfortunately I have to withdraw due to an abdominal injury. I’m so disappointed, but my health comes first and my body needs time to get back to 100%. Lots of love London fans. See you next year."
Keys was replaced in the women's singles draw by another American in lucky loser Coco Vandeweghe, who lost in Thursday's final round of qualifying. The two-time quarterfinalist will face No. 17 seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan in the first round.
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