American Taylor Fritz has handed Rafael Nadal his first loss of the year, winning the final of the Indian Wells tournament in California.
- Rafael Nadal won the Australian Open and two other titles during his 21-match winning streak from the start of 2022
- Taylor Fritz won just the second title of his career and his first Masters 1,000 title
- The 24-year-old was born just a two-hour drive from the site of the Indian Wells tournament
The 24-year-old became the first American since Andre Agassi to win the title with the 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) win.
It brought to an end a perfect start to the season for Nadal, who won a warm-up title in Melbourne, then claimed his record-equalling 21st major title at the Australian Open, followed by victory in Acapulco, Mexico in February.
Nadal outlasted Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 on the weekend for his 21st straight win to start the year, but could not back it up in the final against world number 20 Fritz.
“For the last couple of months we have been living a dream after a very tough period of time,” Nadal said after the loss to Fritz.
Indian Wells was Fritz’s second career ATP title, after a 2019 win on grass in Eastbourne, and just his seventh singles final.
Fritz, who was born just a two-hour drive from the site of the Masters 1,000 tournament, collapsed to the court and tears started welling in his eyes as soon as Nadal’s final running forehand sailed wide.
“Winning this tournament is just one of those crazy childhood dreams that you really never think’s gonna happen,” Fritz said with his voice cracking from the emotion of the moment.
Fritz was nursing an injured ankle, saying he had never been in so much pain before a match.
“I can’t even describe how ridiculous it is how I could play today,” he said.
“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’.”
While Fritz struggled with his ankle, Nadal was dealing with a chest issue he picked up during his semi-final, and the 35-year-old Spaniard was clearly out of sorts to start the match, with Fritz breaking him twice on the way to a 4-0 lead.
But, as he has done so many times before, Nadal refused to wave the white flag, twice holding serve and breaking the American to get to 5-3, sending a buzz through the packed stadium.
Fritz regrouped and halted Nadal’s rally with a third break to grab a one-set lead.
At the end of the opening set, Nadal called for a medical timeout and returned to the court with renewed purpose.
One of the game’s great battlers, Nadal forced the second set to a tie-break but, in the end, the big-serving American proved too strong.
Fritz’s first Masters title prevented Nadal from winning his 37th, which would have equalled the most in history, currently held by Novak Djokovic.