Taylor Fritz seeks Grand Slam first to sit alongside Rafa Nadal scalp

Taylor Fritz’s star has been on the rise for some time, with steady progress allowing him to climb into the world’s top 15 as the No.1-ranked American on the planet. So steep has his learning curve been that it would be expected to flatten out at some stage.

That has not been the case in 2022 as potential continues to be transformed into pedigree, with Fritz becoming the first man from the States since Andre Agassi in 2001 to claim a Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells. Even more impressive than that, he also snapped a 20-game winning streak for his opponent in the final.

That man was one Rafa Nadal, with the deepest of purple patches for a legendary Spaniard seeing him make history at the Australian Open when claiming a 21st Grand Slam crown. He has, of course, gone on to further enhance that CV by prevailing – almost inevitably – at the French Open in Paris.

Wimbledon is next on the agenda, with tennis tips continuing to side with proven winners when it comes to an annual battle for supremacy on grass. Nadal sits among the frontrunners for that prize once again, at +650, with Fritz considered to be something of a long shot after drifting out to +10000.

Such a price is not all that surprising, with the towering California native yet to display any kind of form with greenery under his trainers. An early exit at Queen’s did little to earn him greater favor in the eyes of those endeavoring to pick out potential winners at SW19.

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For Fritz, though, another outing at a major tournament is all about hitting smaller goals. The intention is to challenge for the ultimate accolades eventually, but he is not looking to run so soon after learning to walk among the elite.

Challenge

Right now, Fritz’s focus will be locked on achieving a career first when he heads to plush surrounds in south west London. Across 23 previous appearances in the main draw of Grand Slam events, he has never made it further than the fourth round.

Basically, he has no experience of what it is like to reach the business end of a competition that has the most eyes on it. Even his personal best run to date was achieved earlier this year in Melbourne, when he came unstuck against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Having forced his way into the top 15 on the ATP’s roll of honor, the challenge now is to push one stage further by making the last eight of a major. Once that door has been broken down, another can be expected to open that lead into the world’s top 10 and beyond.

American tennis is crying out for somebody to fly the flag in the men’s game, as positive progress is made by an ambitious group of women, and Fritz has shown that he can be that guy. A glass ceiling sits just above a head that stands at 6ft 5in tall, with it up to him to smash through it.

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Fritz has had a taste of the high life, leaving the greatest of all time trailing in his wake along the way, but consistency is now required if he is to become a serious challenger on a regular basis – and there is no better place to begin that process than at the Slams.

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