In a Thursday matchup of the top two Americans in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Taylor Fritz underlined his status as the No. 1 man from the United States with a straight-sets win against Frances Tiafoe at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC.

The Acapulco third seed earned a 6-3, 6-4 victory in an entertaining match that crescendoed as it neared its conclusion. Tiafoe, playing to the crowd, turned on the style with an underhand serve and a slew of drop shots as he tried to recover an early break in the second set. But Fritz, who landed just 50 per cent of his first serves, finished the job to reach his third semi-final in as many events.

“I’m happy with how I played the big points,” said the 25-year-old, who saved all four break points he faced, including three in the second set. “It’s really easy to get frustrated with myself when I’m missing every first serve.

“It’s really easy to get down on myself for that, and I kind of just fought it out, accepted that I’m going to have to play and grind out all these points and I wasn’t going to be getting the amount of free points that I’m used to getting. I’m pretty proud of how I competed through a lot of those long games on my serve.”

1/2 Finals day @AbiertoTelcel @Taylor_Fritz9 leading the way on Serve & Backhand #ShotQuality@alexdeminaur leading on Return and Forehand #ShotQuality

Are @holgerrune2003 and @TommyPaul1 poised to turn the tables?

Who are you backing to make the final?#TennisInsights

— Tennis Insights (@tennis_insights) March 3, 2023

Fritz scored an early break in both sets, in the fourth game of the opener and the first game of set two. While Tiafoe challenged the World No. 5’s serve, Fritz was able to erase each of those four break points — not with big serves, but by coming up with the goods in several dramatic rallies.

With Tiafoe trailing 2-4 in the second, he mixed in a well-placed underarm serve at 40/0 to spark a fun point that ended on a missed Fritz tweener, sparking smiles from both men and cheers from the crowd. But after missing out on two break points in the previous game, Tiafoe was not able to threaten on return down the stretch.

Fritz earned his sixth straight win against Tiafoe, improving to 6-1 in their ATP Head2Head that dates back to 2016. He also extended his current winning streak to seven after his Delray Beach title last month, with just two sets lost in those seven wins.

Fritz will next face another American in seventh seed Tommy Paul, a 6-2, 6-2 winner against countryman Mackenzie McDonald earlier in the day.

“I’d say it’s similar to how I would play Frances,” Fritz said of the matchup. “He’s one of my close friends, we both know each other’s game really well. Tommy’s been playing well. It’s been a while since we’ve played each other and it’s going to be a good match.”

Fritz leads their ATP Head2Head 2-1, with their most recent meeting last year in Miami.

In Paul’s win against McDonald, both sets played out identically in terms of games won, with the seventh seed breaking serve in the fourth and the final game of each. After saving an early break point, Paul won 16 straight points on serve beginning in his last service game of the opening set. He finished with 19 winners and 6 unforced errors.


Fourth seed Holger Rune also advanced to the Acapulco semi-finals when Matteo Berrettini retired due to a right-leg injury with the Dane leading 6-0, 1-0. The 19-year-old dominated from the start, pulling the Italian around the court by dictating the baseline rallies.

“I think it was close to perfection from my side. I was playing so disciplined from the start to the finish,” said Rune, who lost just seven points in the match. “Of course it’s never nice to end this way. I wish Matteo the best. But if I look at my own level, I was super proud of how I handled the situation so I just can’t wait for the semi-final.”

Eighth seed Alex de Minaur is next up for Rune. The Aussie reached the last four with a 6-2, 6-2 win against Japan’s Taro Daniel.

De Minaur won the final four games of both sets in the victory and did not face a break point after he dropped serve at 2-0 in the opener. The 24-year-old was untouchable on his first serve, losing only one point behind it (21/22) in the one-hour, 37-minute match — though he landed his first delivery at a 42 per cent clip.

The World No. 22 has stormed into the Acapulco semis with the loss of just eight games in three matches. He defeated Mexican wild card Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez in the opening round and qualifier Jacopo Berrettini in the last 16.

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