Taylor Fritz began his French Open with a most straightforward straight-sets win, a 6-1, 6-4, 6-1 shellacking of Bernard Tomic. Afterwards, the American spoke with Tennis Channel's Jon Wertheim, an interview you can watch in entirety above. Here were my three quotable takeaways from their comfortable chat:
"I've always liked red clay, from the first time playing on it as a junior—much more than I liked green clay."
You don’t often see an American—or anyone, for that matter—play a clay-court schedule as packed as Fritz’s was this year. In the eight weeks since the conclusion of the Miami Open, the 21-year-old got his socks dirty in Houston, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Estoril, Madrid, Rome, Lyon and now Paris. Including qualifying matches, Fritz has gone 13-7 on red clay, with wins over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Diego Schwartzman in Monte Carlo, a run to the round of 16 in Madrid and, last week, a semifinal showing in Lyon.
"He wanted to come over, stay and play," says Paul Annacone, who coaches Fritz with David Nainkin. "He has done well on clay, really has enjoyed it and loves to compete."
Fritz’s serve and forehand translate to any kind of court, and now he’s honing the skills specific to clay. In the crop of promising young American men, Fritz has distinguished himself on his country’s most foreign surface. He’s putting the red in red, white and blue.
"It's bit atypical for Americans, but I love it, and it's a strength of his," Annacone says. "He wants to to play everywhere, and he wants to get better."
"The timing between points with Bernie is, like, five seconds or so."
Fritz lucked out with a Tuesday start after his deep run in Lyon—and in Tomic, he drew an opponent who wasn’t going to engage in protracted, taxing rallies. Sets have lasted longer than this best-of-five-set match, a one-hour and 22-minute anti-slog that…would have lasted under an hour on grass? Probably not, as Tomic wastes no time no matter where he plays. He wants to be off the court as much as Fritz wants to be on it.
But given his schedule, Fritz surely didn’t mind this fast-forward first-rounder. He also wanted to beat the rain, which, like the mercurial Aussie, threatened but didn’t show up. Tomic hit 31 unforced errors against 27 winners (Fritz: 42 winners, 12 unforced errors), and was broken seven times. He won just 55 percent of his first-serve points and a paltry 28 percent of points on second serve. Points between Tomic’s serves were short, and so were his service games in general.
"Nike killed it."
Serena Williams’ outfit isn’t the only eye-catching attire from Nike at this year’s French Open. Fritz and many other Nike-sponsored players are donning a dark, floral-print shirt, perhaps a nod to the greenhouses of Court Simonne-Mathieu. Bees dot Fritz’s shorts for a touch of whimsy. Some probably hate the the look, but I’m with Fritz: in a landscape of bland kits, the Swoosh killed it, and not just with him:
I love the threads del Potro has been wearing at Slams. Post-Federer, he's assumed the role of Nike's special exemption, the guy who doesn't have to wear what everyone else is. #RG19 pic.twitter.com/almeo5rMwj— Ed McGrogan (@EdMcGrogan) May 28, 2019