Isner & Fritz Seek More Team Success In ATP Cup
The 24 teams competing in the inaugural ATP Cup present a wide range of ages and experience on the ATP Tour. But the diversity of Team United States is especially noteworthy with its top two singles players, John Isner and Taylor Fritz.
The 34-year-old Isner and 22-year-old Fritz hold the biggest age difference between the top two singles players among any country in this event. Although they possess different playing styles and personalities, they’re aligned in their ability to thrive during team competitions. They will seek to continue that trend when they compete alongside Reilly Opelka, Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek in Group D in Perth, facing Russia, Italy and Norway.
”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,” Fritz said. “It’s going to be great to play alongside John.”
Fritz generated headlines this year by posting a career-best season, capturing his maiden ATP Tour title in Eastbourne (d. Querrey) and cracking the Top 25 of the ATP Rankings in August. His Laver Cup win for Team World against Dominic Thiem also marked his first victory against a Top 5 player.
Isner finished inside the Top 20 for the 10th consecutive year, a feat that only the Big Three of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have also accomplished. The veteran American prevailed in Newport (d. Bublik) and finished runner-up at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Miami (l. to Federer). Isner also represented Team World for the third straight year and said he's always eager to take part in team events.
”I’ve always enjoyed playing for a team. I’ve really done it my whole life. Playing in the team events... has been a joy for me and you definitely can get your competitive juices flowing after a pretty long layoff,” Isner said. “It’ll be pressure-packed on top of that, being out there playing for your country right out of the gate. I do think that will be a very good thing for me and hopefully it will bode well for the Australian Open next year.”
Isner has been the top gun of American tennis for most of this decade, finishing as the highest-ranked American player in seven of the past eight seasons. Although he credits hard work and staying healthy as pivotal to his strong results, he also believes the resources he’s had access to on home soil will continue to shape his success.
”It’s the greatest country in the world,” Isner said. “You have the most opportunity to do amazing things in this country and I’ve been afforded that opportunity through tennis. Everything you really want to do is at your disposal if you work hard, focus, make the right decisions and respect the people that you need to respect. I think that’s what I’ve done my whole life.”
Isner and Fritz have also been on opposite sides of the net, with the veteran American leading 2-1 their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry. But now that their strengths will be united, both men believe that they can defeat any team if they're in top form.
”Even though I can hit a serve, I’ve always admired John’s 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,” Fritz said. “I think the serve and power will be the key weapons of [Team] 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.”