October 4, 2022

AAfter breaking into the top 15 of the ATP rankings, Taylor Fritz is looking for more success at this month’s US Open. After a heartbreaking five-set loss to Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon this year, the 24-year-old is hoping to become the first American to win a Grand Slam singles title since Andy Roddick in 2003.

You played an epic against Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon. How does such a tough loss change your mindset? I’m motivated to keep getting results and keep putting myself in those types of situations where I can play those games. This one was hurting me because I wanted it so badly. I felt like I put in all the hard work, I felt like I deserved it. I really felt like I was going to win the game the whole time until the very end.

Due to the banning of Russian and Belarusian players, no ranking points were awarded at Wimbledon this year. How do you feel about that? I think it was fair that we took points. I think it was unfair that these players couldn’t just play while not representing any flags. [Russia’s invasion of Ukraine] has nothing to do with them. They shouldn’t have been banned from the tournament, but once that happens and you have all these players who don’t have the chance, like everyone else, to compete for points, it wouldn’t be fair to collecting points, which is obviously difficult because if I had gotten the points from Wimbledon, I would be in the top 10 right now. That would be huge for me but, bias aside, I have to say it sucks. I wish we could all play. I wish there were points, but if some players aren’t allowed to play, then I don’t think it’s fair for there to be points.

You’ve mentioned in the past that you want the ATP to be more accepting of players showing their personality in matches. The Nick Kygrios vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas match at Wimbledon had a lot of things that weren’t part of the game itself. How about that? I think the refs probably allowed too much. It was hugely entertaining and that’s what I’m trying to convey in all of this is that tennis needs to be more entertaining and things like that are entertaining, but there are levels. I think the referees allowed Nick to speak a bit after the decision was made, that Tsitsipas will not be dropped after kicking the ball into the crowd. They let the game be a little too late. I also think Stef probably should have failed for prom [into] the crowd. It doesn’t matter if it hits anyone or not, if you hit an angry ball into the crowd, you should be fired. I don’t think there is any excuse.

Taylor Fritz in action at the recent Citi Open. Photography: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Do you think a personality like Kygrios can help attract kids to tennis? Yes of course. I think there are probably so many kids who want to play tennis because of Nick. Or, at the very least, there are so many people my age who don’t know much about tennis, but they know Nick and they’re like, ‘Yeah, that guy is super fun. I don’t like tennis, but I like watching it. It’s stuff like that that’s going to bring in younger, newer fans. What Nick does is entertaining and it brings a lot of new looks to tennis, and it puts off people who may be long-time diehard tennis fans, but it also attracts a lot of people who don’t are not tennis fans.

Why do you think it’s been so long since the United States had a men’s Grand Slam singles champion? It’s been incredibly difficult for any country to have a Grand Slam champion in the last 10 years because we’re playing with the top three players of all time. So maybe now, in the years to come, there will be a lot more opportunities for everyone to have more chances because there are still so many great players, but there is not some players who are as dominant as the ones we played against. … for 10, 15 years. I think that’s a great thing. And I think we have this really strong young band and between all of us, we push each other, we all play better and better every year. I think a lot of us will be up for slams soon.

How do you hope to get kids more interested in sports? The first thing is to be a top player. I play a lot of games and the kids can watch me. I feel like I have a lot of energy on and off the pitch and just a normal, relatable guy. I think it’s important to have a bit more personality and not be such a robot, like the press conference always saying the same answers. I always respond to things exactly as they are, even if it may be upsetting or controversial for some people. But like, I feel like normally I just give my honest, unbiased opinion, and on the pitch I just try to play with a lot of fire and a lot of energy. At the end of the day, I have to win a lot of games and become a very good player, so that more people can come to see me play and maybe attract a lot more interest in the sport.

On the subject of children. How has life balanced tennis and fatherhood? It’s really hard to be on the road as much as me. [But] there’s not really much I can do about having to play tournaments since [this is] my career [and] my job. But in terms of time management, I try to do the best I can when I’m home to see my son as much as possible and be there. I hope when he gets a little older it will be a lot easier to have him travel with me and then do more things. But, we make it work and I try to see it as much as possible.