One year after making his first Grand Slam fourth round at the Australian Open, Taylor Fritz made a strong start to his 2023 Melbourne campaign with a 6-4, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 win against Nikoloz Basilashvili on Tuesday.
Fritz, who also reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals last season, fired 32 aces in the victory as he progressed to the second round for the fifth straight year in Melbourne. He won 84 per cent of his first-serve points in the match.
Playing in his first Grand Slam as a Top 10 player, the 2022 Nitto ATP Finals semi-finalist was down an early break before play was suspended to close the roof in John Cain Arena. From 2-4 in the opening set, the eighth-seeded American won four games to take command.
“It gave me a chacce to regroup a little bit,” he said of the delay. “I came out, it’s the first match, first Slam of the year, it’s my first time being a Top 8 seed. I came out a little nervous but kind of regrouped. I felt like maybe closing the roof wasn’t the best for me because I wanted it to be a little bit faster on the court. I felt like it slowed everything down.
“I did a good job regrouping, just relaxing a bit and just playing a lot more solid.”
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Fritz again used a late surge to take the second set, ripping through four games for 2-2, but he could not recover from dropping serve in the opening game of set three. He did not face a break point in the fourth, and he ultimately closed out the match with his fifth break of the two hour, 24 minute contest.
After a breakthrough 2022 season in which he won his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells — and a title-winning start to the new year with Team USA at the United Cup — Fritz is looking forward to more big moments this season.
“I don’t want to put too many high expectations, but I do expect lot of myself,” he said in his on-court interview. “I’m in a really good spot right now, I’ve been playing really well. I’ve had a great start to the year so I’m looking to have a big week this week.”
The 25-year-old will face either Chun-Hsin Tseng or Aussie wild card Alexei Popyrin on Thursday in the second round.