It has been a year of firsts for Taylor Fritz. The American lifted his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells in March and cracked the Top 10 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in October, before making his debut at the Nitto ATP Finals this week.
Despite suffering semi-final heartbreak against Novak Djokovic in Turin on Saturday, the 25-year-old revealed that he was proud of his season as he reflected on his newfound status in the sport.
“I absolutely feel like I belong,” said World No. 9 Fritz in his post-match press conference. “I think that I’ve proved that I belong in the Top 10 and I belong here. I just need to keep working hard.
“Fortunately for me, I think there’s a lot of positives to take out of this year where I finished. I finished where I did and I missed pretty much the whole clay-court season, didn’t have any training going into the beginning of the hard-court season. I was dealing with injuries and I still was able to produce a really solid year. I’m just excited to get back to work and keep improving. Next year [I will] look to cement my spot even more.”
Fritz earned round-robin victories against Rafael Nadal and Felix Auger-Aliassime at the prestigious year-end event, before falling to Djokovic 7-6(5), 7-6(6).
The American finished ninth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin and therefore looked set to miss out on competing in Turin. However, Carlos Alcaraz’s internal oblique muscle tear forced the Spaniard to withdraw a week before the event, opening the door for Fritz.
The World No. 9 admitted that despite his semi-final disappointment, he was pleased with how he grabbed his chance in northern Italy.
“I’m sure in two weeks from now I’ll look back and I’ll say, ‘It was a really great week,’” Fritz said. “Not only did I get the chance to play the [Nitto ATP] Finals, I made it out of the group. I had two good wins.
“I could have ended my year with a second-round loss in Paris and that would have been it. I would have gone into the off-season with that being the last match. Now I’m going to feel a lot better about my tennis, about my game being done for the season off of this performance. So it’s great.”
Fritz, who was making his debut at the year-end event this week, also feels the experience of competing in Turin will benefit him moving forward.
“I think the event’s amazing,” Fritz said. “I like that you can lose a match and still have the opportunity to come back and improve. It’s a whole different thing. I’ve never lost a match and then immediately had to lock in straight back to it. To do everything after the match the same as I would if I had won because I have to get ready to play again.
“I think it’s a good lesson to learn, staying locked in all the time. On Tour the top players are consistent every week. That’s one thing you can take out of it. Even after you lose, you just kind of stay on it.”