HOT SHOT: Fritz's backhand ends lengthy exchange

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It was a strong two weeks for Taylor Fritz at Indian Wells, and he knows exactly what went right—and what can go even better.

The 23-year-old reached the semifinals of his home event by knocking off three top 15 players, Matteo Berrettini, Jannik Sinner, and Alexander Zverev, before going down against Nikoloz Basilashvili.

He's come far from the days when he went to the tournament to compete in junior events and watch the pros. But he says part of his success was rediscovering some of the energy and freshness of that period.

"Just that confidence to go after the ball and trust myself, not play tight, tentative tennis. Just really go after it and win the match. It feels good," Fritz told press at Indian Wells. "I know when I'm feeling like this and playing like this, that's what makes me a good player, that's what gave me a lot of success early on in my career, was just that fearlessness to trust myself in the big moments. It's just really nice to have that feeling back."

It was the fifth semifinal of the year for Fritz, but his first at an event higher than the 250 level. He also had knee surgery following the French Open, but intensive rehab allowed him to return by Wimbledon.

Fritz wiped away two match points in his quarterfinal victory over Alexander Zverev at the BNP Paribas Open.

Fritz wiped away two match points in his quarterfinal victory over Alexander Zverev at the BNP Paribas Open.

Though he's been having one of his most solid seasons, he still wants to improve in several ways.

"I'd like to still improve my serve, then have my forehand be even more reliable than it is now—more of a weapon, less errors on it,” Fritz said. "I've been working a lot on coming forward to net. I'd love to be able to finish more points at net, feel more comfortable with it, because I hurt people with my power, kind of back them up. Coming to net can add another layer to my game.

"Just improving the return, becoming stronger and faster, which I've been able to do over the past couple years. There's still a lot of room for improvement.

That is why he insists his best tennis is still in front of him. A former junior No. 1, Fritz had a good start to his pro career but his progress up the ranks, though consistent, has been slower than many expected. But he says he is on the right path.

"Everyone kind of peaks at different times, but I'm 23 right now. I just know that I'm nowhere near where I think I'm going to be as a player.”

Fritz is No. 30 in the rankings.