The third episode of Netflix’s Break Point takes fans behind the scenes of a dramatic moment for American Taylor Fritz before the biggest match of his career.

The California native suffered a freak ankle injury during his warmup for the 2022 BNP Paribas Open final. Struggling to put any weight on his right foot, Fritz described it as ‘one of the worst pains I have ever felt’.

Fritz’s coaching team, which consists of Michael Russell, Paul Annacone and physio Wolfgang Oswald, advised the American to not play the championship clash to ensure no further damage to his ankle.

Fritz elected to play and defeated all-time great Rafael Nadal in straight sets to win his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title. Annacone spoke with ATPTour.com about his fond, and perhaps stressful, memories from that day.

“I remember we were walking back into the players’ lounge before the match and Taylor turned to us and said, ‘Guys, I’m really sorry I’m such a pain in the a**, but I just won’t be able to sleep at night if I don’t walk on the court,’” Annacone recalled. “I think Michael and I said, ‘Taylor, it’s your body. Do what you think you need to do, but we’re telling you what we think you should do.’”

[NEWSLETTER FORM]

The-then 24-year-old already had made up his mind. He could not fathom the thought of not stepping onto the court with a chance to win the tournament he grew up dreaming of winning. Annacone arrived in the players’ box and baked in the desert sun as he watched Fritz defeat the Spaniard 6-3, 7-6(5).

“I wasn’t nervous at all,” Annacone said. “My big thing was I didn’t want him to walk on the court and then walk off after one game. First he said, ‘If it hurts, I’ll just walk off the court’. And I was like, ‘No, there’s 17,000 people there, I don’t want you to just walk off the court! Let’s make an educated decision before that.’ Once I saw him move around after he got treatment, I felt like he was going to be able to play, I just didn’t know how well.

“Once he got on court, I felt the worst thing that could happen is he’s not going to play well, lose 2-6, 1-6, and he’s going to have a sore ankle.”

[ATP APP]

Although Fritz concluded his dream run at Indian Wells with the trophy, Annacone admitted that he would still chime in as a voice of reason should a similar injury happen.

“I view it as an amazing time and I’d still do the same thing,” Annacone said. “I’d say the same exact stuff and recommend that he not play. My biggest fear with stuff like that is the player doesn’t learn the right message. Just because you do it this time, doesn’t mean you do it all the time.”

Annacone has worn many hats within pro tennis. He rose to No. 12 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and won 14 tour-level doubles titles before coaching legends Pete Sampras and Roger Federer. He has been around the block and seen it all. One experience Annacone will never forget was when Sampras collected his seventh Wimbledon title despite spending hours on the couch that fortnight due to an injury.

“I was with Pete when he won Wimbledon in 2000, which then broke the record for all-time majors and he couldn’t hit on any off days until the day before the final,” Annacone said. “He had something going on with his shin. He didn’t even warm up for any matches. He’d walk on the court, play a match, and not do anything until two days later. For that moment, that was the right thing for Pete to do, he was trying to break the all-time record.

“As long as the player learns from that stuff, then I’m fine. Taylor gets stubborn, he’ll do that and then think that’s the norm. That’s what I didn’t want to come out of Indian Wells, and I don’t think it did. I think he learned a lot about himself.”

Fritz’s first Masters 1000 title? Check. A lesson learned for the American? Annacone hopes that has been checked off as well.

Generated by Feedzy