Taylor Fritz sets ‘really cool’ record for an American player on clay courts

Kevin Palmer
Taylor Fritz impressing on clay courts
Taylor Fritz impressing on clay courts

Taylor Fritz created a piece of American tennis history as he beat Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 7-6 (13-11), 6-1 at the Italian Open.

With his latest win on the red dirt “Claylor” became the first player from his nation to reach the quarter-finals of all three ATP Masters events on clay, as he moved into the last eight in Rome after also performing well at Monte Carlo and the Madrid Masters.

With his booming serve and power-packed game, clay court tennis does not appear to be the perfect fit for Fritz, but he is delighted with the progress he is making on the red clay.

“That’s a really cool stat,” he said of his quarter-final record.

“I think for me, I’ve kind of committed to this clay court swing, playing all the events, for a long time. I think the generation before me, a lot of the Americans wouldn’t want to play the whole swing or they skip Monte-Carlo, whatever.

“For me, clay season’s a huge part of the season. It’s three Masters, some other tournaments, and a Grand Slam. How can I ever be a top player that I want to be if I can’t produce some results during the clay season? ‘

“I’m not that good where I’m going to dominate everywhere else. I always thought, like, if I want to be top-10 player, I need to be putting results in on clay.

“I’ve committed to playing the full swing for several years of my career. I think I’ve just been kind of figuring out what works for me, using the parts of my game that work well on clay, kind of letting those parts of my game take over, whereas they might take a bit of a backseat when I’m playing on a hard court. It’s been really fun.”

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His win against Dimitrov included a dramatic second-set tie-break that included 24 points and swung in numerous directions, with the Bulgarian running out of energy in the third set after he rode the wave of emotions to get back into the match.

Now he is eyeing up more success on clay courts, as he is already casting an eye to the Olympic Games in Paris this summer, with that event set to be played after the grass-court season.

“It’s a little awkward that we’re going to go back to clay after grass obviously,” added Fritz.

“I’m feel good on clay right now. It would work great for me if we were just going to continue on and play.

“I’ll probably just try to get there a bit early and get some reps in. After Wimbledon, I’m going to be coming off of a very, very long stint in Europe. I mean, I’m going to have to go home before coming back for the Olympics.

“There is the option to play a clay court tournament after Wimbledon, before Olympics, but I don’t think I can take that.”

Fritz has reclaimed the US No 1 ranking from Ben Shelton courtesy of his success on European clay courts and his latest run in Rome will cement his position as his nation’s top player for the next few weeks at last.

If he could go all the way and get a victory in Rome, Fritz would also secure a return to the top ten of the ATP Rankings.