When the Nitto ATP Finals groups were released, Taylor Fritz’s eyes keyed in on a Sunday evening clash with Rafael Nadal. It will be Fritz’s third meeting this season against the 22-time major champion.
In March, the American ended Nadal’s personal best 20-match winning streak to win his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title on home soil at Indian Wells. Three-and-a-half months later, the Spaniard ousted Fritz in a dramatic five-setter in the Wimbledon quarter-finals.
“Playing Rafa is a big deal,” Fritz said. “The match we had at Wimbledon was very close. Between the two matches we’ve played, there were highs [after Indian Wells] and lows [following Wimbledon].”
The 25-year-old went on to collect two more titles, Eastbourne and Tokyo, racking up a 43-19 record in 2022. This past month, Fritz climbed to a career-high No. 8 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and now sets his sights on making a strong debut at the Nitto ATP Finals.
“When I started the year, my initial goal was Top 10,” Fritz said. “After how the year started, I was like, ‘I’m definitely in a good position to make it here [Turin]’. It became a goal of mine, I’m excited to be here.”
Fritz and Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime are the only single debutants in Turin this week. They are gunning to become the third player in the past six years to win the Nitto ATP Finals on debut (Grigor Dimitrov, ’17, Stefanos Tsitsipas, ’19).
An eight-time quarter-finalist this year, Fritz chilled out ahead of the season finale to ensure his body would be in top shape to play a minimum of three and potentially five matches at the event. Following an early exit at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Paris, Fritz traveled to a Swiss resort before arriving at the Pala Alpitour.
“I went on a nice three-day vacation to relax, get my body feeling good,” Fritz said. “I got here [Turin] the day the site opened, Monday. Now I’m just training and getting ready.”
The California native is the first American to play singles at the coveted season finale since John Isner in 2018. When Fritz was asked on media day what his goals were for the week, he didn’t shy away: He wants to be crowned champion.
“To win [is my goal]!” Fritz said, while cracking a laugh. “I think what makes all the people here who they are is everyone goes into the event believing they can win. I obviously want to have a good showing, but like everyone else, I’m here to win the event.”
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Should Fritz claim the title, he would be the first American to triumph at the prestigious year-end event since Pete Sampras in 1999.
Fritz is set to compete in the Green Group alongside Nadal, Auger-Aliassime, and Casper Ruud. The Nitto ATP Finals runs from 13-20 November.