Fritz On ATP Cup: 'USA Will Bring A Lot Of Firepower'
Fritz feels team event will bring out his A-game
Taylor Fritz will join John Isner, Reilly Opelka, Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek as a part of Team United States at the inaugural ATP Cup, to be held in Australia from 3-12 January 2020. The United States will be competing in Group D in Perth, facing Russia, Italy and Norway.
The World No. 32, who captured his first ATP Tour title at the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne (d. Querrey) in June, speaks to ATPTour.com about what makes competing as a team special, his idols growing up and more.
Why are you excited about competing in the ATP Cup?
I’m really excited to go and start the year off by playing guaranteed matches against some of the world’s best players in the first week of the 2020 season. It’s going to be an incredible new event for players and fans. Every match will be critical to the overall result and whether the United States progress to the Final Eight [in Sydney]. That will provide pressure and extra nerves, but it will mean everyone will see who has put in the work during the off-season. Also, I have always liked the look of the Perth Arena. Being able to see some of the beautiful city will mean it’s going to be a memorable experience. I never thought I’d be able to visit.
What do you think will be the most fun part of playing on a team?
We play a lot individually and at the end of the year, you’re measured by your position in the ATP Rankings. But we don’t get to compete that often as a team, with fellow players cheering you on from the side of the court. Winning and losing certainly adds a lot of extra energy to matches when you’re playing for your country, but I’ve found it does help me to play better. It’s going to be great to play alongside John, as I did at the Laver Cup in September. It was a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to the ATP Cup. It will be really fun. These events bring the team close together and you cheer each other.
Which countrymen did you watch growing up and what did you admire about them?
Growing up in a tennis family, I watched all the American players. But I was a huge fan of Pete Sampras, watching his matches and his rivalry with Andre Agassi, the overall contrast of styles and how they each went about winning. Now being coached by Sampras’ (and Roger Federer’s) former coach, Paul Annacone, I’ve gained an insight into how they operated and I have learned a lot on the court and mentally. I’ve improved so much working with Paul and finally winning an ATP 250-level title in Eastbourne was so special and a huge weight off my shoulders.
If you could take one shot from anyone in your country, what would it be and why?
Certainly at the ATP Cup, Team United States will come with a lot of firepower. Even though I can hit a serve, I’ve always admired John’s [Isner] serve. He makes it look so effortless, but I know just how hard he works to develop repetition and rhythm, so when it comes to a match his big weapon is on. I think the serve and power will be the key weapons of USA. It’s going to be tricky to compete against countries with two highly ranked players, but that’s going to be the big challenge.
What were your early memories of playing tennis in United States as a kid?
I started very young. It would have been watching my Mum [former WTA Top 10 player Kathy May Fritz] play tennis on the side of the court, or attending and competing in hundreds of junior tournaments and just generally being at tennis clubs. At the age of 12, I remember playing in a mother-son event in San Diego and my Mum suffering a calf injury during a quarter-final against college guys, older opponents. Back then it mattered, so I forced her to keep going. My Mum and Dad [Guy, a tennis coach] have helped me so much.
What do you love most about your country and representing United States?
I love the size and the opportunities. Being able to travel and play tennis really opens your eyes to new cultures internationally, but I really enjoy my time in the States. Everything that you want is available. I made my first ATP Tour final at the age of 18 on home soil in Memphis [in February 2016], but fell short against Kei Nishikori. For me, it’s been a great honour to represent the United States and to be among those who will play at the first ATP Cup in January.