Take Five: Taylor Fritz hits Top 10, Caty McNally and Alycia Parks impress in Ostrava
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. It was a busy week around the world for U.S. tennis last week, led by Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe's efforts in Japan while Caty McNally and Alycia Parks turned heads in the Czech Republic.
Taylor Fritz breaks into Top 10 after Tokyo triumph
Welcome to the world's best, Taylor Fritz: On the back of winning the ATP 500 title in Tokyo, Japan, the Californian breaks into the Top 10 of the world rankings this week at No. 8. Fritz toppled good friend and fellow American Frances Tiafoe in two tiebreaks to take home his third title of the season.
Read more on usta.com: Fritz edges Tiafoe to win Tokyo
Reflecting on his new ranking to the ATP's official website on Monday, Fritz said it's the latest accomplishment he's cherished in a career-best season. He started 2022 ranked No. 23 in the world, which was then already a career-high; in March; he stunned Rafael Nadal in the final of the BNP Paribas Open to win his first ATP Masters 1000; and reached his first Grand Slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon this summer.
“I think every kid growing up and every player when you first start playing, [reaching the] Top 10 is a massive milestone and it’s a dream that you want to tick off [that] box,” Fritz told ATPTour.com.
“Obviously, everyone wants to be No. 1 in the world, Top 5, there is more that I want to achieve. But I’ll always be a Top 10 player. That can never be taken away from me. It’s one of those things that you strive for and you want for a really long time, so it’s nice to finally get there.”
The 24-year-old is the first American man to break into the ATP's singles Top 10 since Jack Sock did so in 2017, and the third player to break into the world's elite at some point in 2022 along with Spain's Carlos Alcaraz and Great Britain's Cameron Norrie.
He is the 36th American and 179th player overall in the history of the ATP rankings that were established in 1973.
Caty McNally, Alycia Parks impress in both singles and doubles in Ostrava
It's not easy to balance playing singles and doubles at the same event, but Caty McNally and Alycia Parks made the feat look easy last week in Ostrava. At the WTA 500 event in the Czech Republic, the two Americans both qualified for the main draw and made a splash en route to the quarterfinals, and they teamed up to take home the doubles title.
Parks, who came into the event ranked No. 144 in the world, had a particularly noteworthy run: She knocked off former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova and No. 4 seed Maria Sakkari for the first Top 20 and Top 10 wins of her career, respectively, before losing to the eventual champion and 2021 Roland Garros winner Barbora Krejcikova in the last eight.
Entering as No. 151, McNally, too, had statement wins: In the first round of qualifying, she knocked out China's Wang Xiyu, who reached Round 3 of the US Open last month, and also defeated former Top 20 player Karolina Muchova in Round 2 before giving world No. 1 Iga Swiatek all she could handle in a 6-4, 6-4 defeat.
But, it was a last-minute decision that helped them make their biggest splash: Agreeing to play only once on-site, the two Americans were unseeded and beat three seeded teams in four matches to take the title.
In the quarterfinals, they upset No. 1 seeds Desirae Krawczyk and Demi Schuurs, and came from a set down in their semifinal win over No. 4 seeds Kirsten Flipkens and Laura Siegemund. They were 6-3, 6-2 winners over No. 3 seeds Erin Routliffe and Alicja Rosolska in Sunday's final for their first doubles title as a pair.
It's Parks' first WTA trophy of any kind and McNally's sixth in doubles; this year, she's reached four finals with three different partners, and also won St. Petersburg with Anna Kalinskaya in February.
In this week's singles rankings, Parks soars into the Top 100 at a new career-high of No. 79, while McNally moves up 28 spots to No. 123.
Claire Liu topples Ons Jabeur in Tunisia en route to semifinals, career-high
She might not be able to buy a drink in Tunisia ever again, but California's Claire Liu had a week to remember at the inaugural WTA 250 event in Monastir. The 22-year-old reached her second semifinal of the season, and in the quarterfinals, scored her first-ever Top 10 win against top seed and home favorite Ons Jabeur, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
In front of a packed house in the tournament's evening session, the former Wimbledon junior champion broke the world No. 2 six times and won nearly half the points in Jabeur's service games on the whole. She also hit 28 winners to the two-time Grand Slam finalist's 13 in 2 hours, 26 minutes.
"I really appeciate everyone for coming out, and I know everyone wanted a different result, but I don't think this tournament would happen without Ons and I think she deserves everything, all the success and all the support," Liu said in victory.
"I think I got lucky on a few shots, and just tried to stick with it. I'm just lucky I got it out in the end."
Beaten by eventual champion Elise Mertens in the penultimate round, Liu nontheless rises to a new career-high in the WTA rankings for a second week in a row: She's up nine spots this week to No. 64.
Doubles: Angela Kulikov, Mackenzie McDonald shine
In addition to McNally and Parks, two other Americans played in doubles finals at ATP and WTA events last week with split results. Contesting her second doubles final of the season, Angela Kulikov finished as runner-up in Monastir with Japan's Miyu Kato, while Mackenzie McDonald teamed with Brazil's Marcelo Melo for his first ATP title of any kind in Tokyo.
McDonald is the first American to win the doubles title in Tokyo since Eric Butorac in 2010. After beating Tiafoe and Alex de Minaur in Round 1, McDonald and Melo knocked off No. 4 seeds Dan Evans and John Peers in Round 2, and No. 3 seeds Rafael Matos and David Vega Hernandez in the final. They also benefitted from a walkover from No. 1 seeds and Australian Open champions Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis in the semifinals; Kyrgios' knee injury also forced him to withdraw from his expected singles quarterfinal with eventual champion Fritz.
Zachary Svajda topples Ben Shelton in Tiburon on Pro Circuit
The first career ATP Challenger title of Zachary Svajda's career didn't come easily: The unseeded 19-year-old defeated three seeded players in five matches to triumph at the Tiburon Challenger, which was making its return to the USTA Pro Circuit calendar for the first time since 2019.
The two-time former USTA Boys' 18s national champion came from a set down in his opening victory against Danish qualifier August Holmgren, and then knocked out two other Americans—No. 3 seed Michael Mmoh and No. 7 seed Ernesto Escobedo—and Canada's Alexis Galarneau before taking down No. 4 seed Shelton in a 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 final.
Newly-professional Shelton is still bidding for his first title at Challenger level. He's now 0-3 in finals this year. Nonetheless, he's up 17 spots in the ATP rankings to a new high of No. 160.
Other highlights for Americans around the world last week included:
- Casey Ratzlaff reached the singles and doubles finals of the Biel-Bienne Indoors, an ITF 3 Series event on the ITF/UNQILO Wheelchair Tennis Tour.
- Katrina Scott reached the singles final of the USTA Pro Circuit ITF World Tennis Tour W80 event in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. while Elvina Kalieva partnered Poland's Katarzyna Kawa to the doubles title.
- Kayla Day beat Jamie Loeb in an all-American singles final at the USTA Pro Circuit ITF World Tennis Tour W25 in Redding, Calif., while Hanna Chang and reigning junior Wimbledon winner Liv Hovde reached the semifinals.
- Kyle Seelig won the doubles title at the ITF World Tennis Tour M25 in Cairns, Australia, while Caty McNally's elder brother, John McNally, was the doubles champion at the M15 event in Ithaca, N.Y. He also reached the singles semifinals.