Mon. May 23rd, 2022

Taylor Fritz said his stubborn streak and a high pain tolerance helped him win the Indian Wells title after an ankle injury almost forced the American to pull out of the final against Rafael Nadal; The 24-year-old overcame excruciating pain to snap the Spaniard’s 20-match winning run

Last Updated: 21/03/22 8:40am

Taylor Fritz overcame excruciating pain to snap Rafael Nadal's 20-match winning at Indian Wells

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Taylor Fritz overcame excruciating pain to snap Rafael Nadal’s 20-match winning at Indian Wells

Taylor Fritz overcame excruciating pain to snap Rafael Nadal’s 20-match winning at Indian Wells

Taylor Fritz snapped Rafael Nadal’s 20-match winning streak as the Californian claimed his first ATP Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells.

There were errors from both throughout as Fritz took the first set and the pair entered a tiebreaker at the end of the second, with neither having lost one at Indian Wells this year in singles.

But it was the 24-year-old, ranked 20th, who emerged victorious to finish 6-3 7-6 (7-5) over the world No 4, with Fritz becoming the first American to win the tournament since Andre Agassi in 2001.

“This is just one of those childhood dreams you just think would never come true,” said Fritz. “I can’t even describe how ridiculous it is how I could play today.

“I have never experienced worse pain in my life before a match.

“If I knew it was going to be that bad, I wouldn’t have come out here. I took a couple of change-of-direction steps and screamed and honestly I was trying to act tough because I had cameras on me.

“We did a lot of work leading up to the match and I went through a rollercoaster of emotions before the match thinking there’s no way I could possibly play today.”

Breathing problems for Nadal

While Fritz was struggling with an ankle problem, Nadal was dealing with a chest issue he picked up during an epic three-set semi-final battle with 18-year-old compatriot Carlos Alcaraz.

“When I’m breathing, when I’m moving, it’s like a needle all the time inside. I get dizzy a little bit because it’s painful,” Nadal said.

“It’s a kind of pain that limits me a lot. It’s not only about pain, I don’t feel very well because it affects my breathing.

“More than sadness for the loss, (it’s) something that I accepted immediately and even before the match ended. I’m suffering a little bit, honestly.”

Rafael Nadal was left concerned by a breathing problem and sad at the end of his remarkable winning run

Rafael Nadal was left concerned by a breathing problem and sad at the end of his remarkable winning run

Nadal had already decided not to play in the Miami Open over the next fortnight and will instead have a short break before the clay-court season begins next month.

He said of his first defeat of the year: “I wanted to make it perfect before clay. It has been very, very, very beautiful. Honestly I am sad because of the way I was not able to compete. It’s tough to have these feelings, every day, but in the final it’s very, very ugly.

“But I am not the kind of person that goes down or goes very high emotionally depending on the moment. I am normally stable, putting everything in perspective.

“Of course, the last two months have been amazing, unforgettable, very emotional. I enjoyed things that I never thought I could live again a few months ago.

“Now is the moment to try to solve this problem as soon as possible, try to start on clay. The thing that worries me is about what’s going on there, what I have to do now to recover and how long it’s going to take.”

Swiatek on song

Earlier, Poland’s Iga Swiatek won the women’s title with a commanding victory over Maria Sakkari.

Swiatek rose to No 2 in the world after a 6-4 6-1 win over her Greek opponent.

“We’ve already started a pretty cool rivalry and I think it’s going to last a few more years so it’s pretty exciting,” Swiatek said in her on-court interview.

“We’re going to play many more finals. Today was pretty crazy because of the conditions. My team did an amazing job.”

Sakkari never settled and it was all one-way traffic as Swiatek swept through five consecutive games in the second set to take the title.

“Obviously it wasn’t my day,” said Sakkari. “There’s not much I can say about the way I played.

“Clearly it was windy. We were both struggling with our serves in the beginning of the match. (But the) wind is never an excuse because wind is for both of us.”

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