Taylor Fritz claims ‘crazy’ post-Covid triumph to boost ATP Finals chances
Taylor Fritz has surged to seventh in the ATP Race to Turin by defeating Frances Tiafoe to become the Japan Open champion.
The American number one had already secured a top 10 spot by reaching the final. He will climb to eighth after defeating Tiafoe 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-2) for his first ATP 500 title.
“Crazy,” Fritz began after the victory. “I don’t even think it’s really set in just how fast the last five days have been, it’s still crazy. I mean, I couldn’t have written it out any better. This is exactly what I needed for the Race, for my ranking. It’s kind of put me in a good position for the end of the year so it’s amazing.”
If Fritz makes it to the ATP Finals, he would be the first American there since John Isner in 2018. His Tokyo title is made more remarkable since he came so close to not even playing the event.
The 24-year-old tested positive for Covid at last week’s Korea Open. That forced him out of the event and into hard quarantine for a full week. He then only arrived in Tokyo on Wednesday morning before playing that evening.
“[It’s great] turning such a bad situation [around] where I didn’t even know if I was going to be able to play this tournament,” he explained. “And if I was going to be able to play it would have to be after being in a hotel room for seven days, having Covid, and then taking a flight the morning of.
“So turning a situation like that into a title and doing it when it has such an important impact on the Race, it just feels good to kind of clutch up and do something big like this.”
Fritz has course corrected his season after a crushing defeat to Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon and a shock first round exit at the US Open.
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