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2016 US Open Player to Watch: Taylor Fritz

September 9, 2015 - Taylor Fritz in action against Stefanos Tsitsipas in a junior boys' singles third-round match during the 2015 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY. (USTA/Pete Staples)

The Taylor Fritz File

Age: 18
Height: 6-4
Residence: Rancho Santa Fe, CA
Current Rank: 102
Career-High Rank: 102 (February 2016)
Best US Open Finish: 2016 boys’ singles champion

The Baseline

Taylor Fritz has the appearance of an overnight sensation, his recent run at the Memphis Open making him the youngest American to reach an ATP final since Michael Chang in 1989. But his path to success was far more deliberate. While many of his peers progressed to ITF events and junior Grand Slams, the son of former Top 10 women’s player Kathy May stayed in his native California, honing his game and dominating at the local level.

Fritz’s development plan came together in 2015, when the up-and-comer reached the French Open boys’ final, advanced to the Wimbledon junior semifinals and won the US Open Junior Championships to finish the year at No. 1 in the ITF World Junior Rankings.

That was impressive enough, but what followed has taken the tennis world by storm. Following the US Open, Fritz moved up to the pro ranks and quickly won two USTA Pro Circuit Challengers – the level just below tour events – adding a third Challenger title this year in Australia. He then won three matches to qualify for the Australian Open and made the most of his wild card last week in Memphis, knocking off No. 2 seed Steve Johnson and Top 100 veterans Benjamin Becker and Ricardas Berankis before falling in the final to world No. 7 Kei Nishikori, 6-4, 6-4.

Expecting another such run at this year’s US Open is unfair. Young players seldom have a smooth run to the top, instead taking some odd stumbles as they learn what it takes to be consistently excellent pros. That said, the 6-foot-4 right-hander has a frame and a game built for the long haul. He has the kind of easy power, both with his serve and off the ground, requisite in modern tennis, and he covers the court well for a man his size.

Already, Fritz – whose ranking has skyrocketed nearly 600 spots in the last four months – is being mentioned among the top echelon of rising stars in men’s tennis. Continued development will make him a real contender for a US Open crown down the road. For 2016, winning a round or two would register as an unqualified success, and with a growing game and a good draw, a run to the second week isn’t out of the question.

play video Interview: Taylor Fritz