Taylor Fritz revealed in March after winning the BNP Paribas Open that his goal was to crack the Top 10 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. The American can now say, “Mission accomplished”.
The 24-year-old today became the first player from his country to break into the Top 10 since Jack Sock on 6 November 2017. Fritz climbed three spots to World No. 8 after winning the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships.
“I think every kid growing up and every player when you first start playing, [reaching the] Top 10 is a massive milestone and it’s a dream that you want to tick off [that] box,” Fritz told ATPTour.com. “Obviously everyone wants to be No. 1 in the world, Top 5, there is more that I want to achieve. But I’ll always be a Top 10 player. That can never be taken away from me.
“It’s one of those things that you strive for and you want for a really long time, so it’s nice to finally get there.”
Fritz began 2022 at World No. 23, which at the time was the highest standing of his career. There were signs the Californian was on the rise, though. He finished 2021 with a flurry by advancing to the Indian Wells semi-finals, the St. Petersburg final and the Paris quarter-finals. Eight of his 11 victories during that stretch came in straight sets.
“I felt like things started falling into place and [when] I went into this year, a lot of people asked me what it was going to take to be Top 10,” Fritz recalled. “I said, ‘Nothing, I just need to play the way I’ve been playing.’ Obviously [I needed] good results, but I felt like going into this year when I was ranked 20 or whatever it was, I thought my level was of a Top 10 player, so I definitely believed from the end of last year that it was super achievable.”
The pupil of Michael Russell and Paul Annacone carried that momentum into this season, making the biggest splash of his career in the California desert. Fritz stunned Rafael Nadal in the Indian Wells final for his first ATP Masters 1000 title. The American added two more trophies to his collection by triumphing in Eastbourne and Tokyo.
The Tokyo victory did not just propel him into the world’s Top 10, though. It also helped Fritz climb to seventh in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, putting him in a qualifying position for the Nitto ATP Finals, which will be played from 13-20 November in Turin.
Fritz is not resting on his accomplishments. Instead, he is laser-focussed on maintaining his level through the Rolex Paris Masters to earn his place in the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time.
“Obviously short term [my goal] is Turin. Finishing Top 8, that’s the next thing for sure and that’s short term, it’s going to be decided in a month and a half,” Fritz said. “But the next thing is to keep moving up. I’d love to have a big run at a Slam. I think semis or final of a Slam is the next step.
“[I reached the] quarters at Wimbledon this year, I was very close. Top 5, I think one thing we talked about with my team for a lot of last year and this year was Top 10 mentality and once I got to about 12ish in the world, we said, ‘Okay, we can’t stop. Now we reevaluate and it’s Top 5 mentality’, so that’s what we’re focussed on.”
Fritz has earned 41 wins this year. Before 2022, he had never claimed more than 34 victories in a full season. The new World No. 8 is next scheduled to compete at next week’s Stockholm Open.
Did You Know?
Fritz is the third player to crack the Top 10 this season, joining Carlos Alcaraz and Cameron Norrie. He is the 36th American and 179th player overall in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings (since 1973) to accomplish the feat.