ATP: No. 4 Taylor Fritz earns narrow victory at Indian Wells

No. 4 seed Taylor Fritz of the United States battled back to earn a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over fellow countryman Ben Shelton in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday to begin his title defense at Indian Wells, Calif.

Fritz, who defeated Spain’s Rafael Nadal in the 2022 final at Indian Wells, won 26 of 31 (83.9 percent) second-serve points and didn’t commit a double fault to overcome the loss in the opening set.

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Shelton broke Fritz’s serve in the fifth game of the first set, giving him a 3-2 edge. Shelton then took leads of 4-2 and 5-3 before finishing off Fritz for the early advantage. But Fritz battled back, never giving up his serve again for the remainder of the match as he clawed his way to the next round.

“He’s a really good player,” Fritz said of Shelton. “I expected him to come out serving well. He was playing well. He had nothing to lose so I did expect him to come out with a really high level.

“I think I was ready for it. I just had to regroup and find a way to problem-solve.”

Fritz, who hails from Southern California, got plenty of support from the home crowd that helped him rally for the victory.

“It’s such a great feeling coming back, walking onto the court and then walking back out after the match is over,” Fritz said. “It’s such an amazing feeling just to feel the crowd and be back home.”

Fritz will face 30th-seeded Argentine Sebastian Baez, who defeated Australian qualifier Rinky Hijikata 6-3, 6-1.

Saturday’s second-round action featured a number of upsets, including Hungarian Marton Fucsovics’ 6-4, 6-2 sweep of 16th-seeded Alex de Minaur of Australia. Alex Molcan of Slovakia took down 18th-seeded Croatian Borna Coric 6-3, 6-3, while France’s Adrian Mannarino, Great Britain’s Jack Draper and Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka — playing on a protected ranking — also toppled seeded foes.

No. 8 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada had no problem beating Spain’s Pedro Martinez, winning 7-6 (5), 6-4. Ninth-seeded Hubert Hurkacz of Poland also cruised to victory, besting Australian lucky loser Alexei Popyrin 6-3, 6-3. No. 7 seed Holger Rune of Denmark, 11th seed Jannik Sinner of Italy and 17th seed Tommy Paul of the United States also earned sweeps.

No. 27 seed Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina, No. 31 seed Tallon Griekspoor of the Netherlands and Great Britain’s Andy Murray were also among Saturday’s winners.

Top-seeded Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz was scheduled to play Australian qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis later Saturday night.

–Field Level Media

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