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After "begging" Annacone not to work on net game, Fritz sees payoff
The 23-year-old American kicked off his Miami Open campaign Friday, winning eight of 11 net points during his 6-2, 6-2 win over countryman Marcos Giron.
Published Mar 27, 2021
While several men’s seeds were tripped up in their opening matches at the Miami Open, there wasn’t much to pick apart about Taylor Fritz’s Friday afternoon performance.
The No. 22 seed proved to be a mismatch for Marcos Giron, taking the all-American encounter, 6-2, 6-2. Fritz let his serve do the talking, freeing the 23-year-old up to break his countryman twice in each set for a swift 55-minute victory. Ten of Fritz’s 20 winners came off the forehand, while Giron produced just one versus nine unforced errors on that same wing.
“I feel great about where my game’s at. I think the courts are not too fast. I get a good amount of time to set up for my shots,” Fritz told Tennis Channel’s Prakash Amritraj afterwards. “Serving well, forehand feels good. I feel like I’ve improved on my return a lot lately. Stepping in, attacking more on my backhand. I’m very critical of my game and I’m pretty happy right now where it’s at.”
Fritz also enjoyed an eight for 11 success rate at the net, an area he said coach Paul Annacone continues to hammer home during training sessions.
“We’ve been working on that for probably three or four years. I’ve been begging Paul not to work on it. It’s all I do, I feel like,” Fritz shared. “I felt like in Doha, it was the first time I really started feeling comfortable coming forward. I was playing some good net points. It’s finally—after all the work we put in—kind of appearing on the court in the matches.”
In the third round, the San Diego, Calif. native will face Cameron Norrie. The Brit ousted No. 9 seed Grigor Dimitrov, 7-5, 7-5, firing 10 aces to clinch the first-time meeting after one hour and 57 minutes. Norrie leads Fritz 3-2 in their head-to-head series, having won both of their 2020 clashes in three-set contests at Delray Beach and St. Petersburg.
Emil Ruusuvuori stunned No. 3 seed Alexander Zverev by rallying for a 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory. Zverev was coming off winning the ATP 500 event in Acapulco, but became the Finn's first Top 10 casualty since he upstaged fifth-ranked Dominic Thiem at a 2019 Davis Cup tie on home turf. Mikael Ymer awaits, after taking down Doha champion Nikoloz Basilashvili, the No. 27 seed, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
Australia’s James Duckworth also knocked out a Top 10 seed when he brushed aside eighth-seeded David Goffin, 6-3, 6-1. Three of Duckworth’s four career ATP Masters 1000 match wins have come in Miami.
Countryman Alexei Popyrin joined him in the third round when he eased past No. 30 seed Reilly Opelka, 6-4, 6-2. Awaiting Popyrin is top seed Daniil Medvedev. Making his debut as the world No. 2, Medvedev was unfazed, as he eliminated Yen-Hsun Lu, 6-2, 6-2.
In night-session action, Frances Tiafoe battled past 19th seed Dan Evans, 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-3, to prevail in two hours and 50 minutes. It marked the first time Tiafoe has won back-to-back matches since opening his season with a quarterfinal showing in Delray Beach.