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Can Taylor Fritz make top five men’s tennis rankings in 2023?

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Taylor Fritz set two bold aims for 2022: end the yr within the prime 10 within the males’s tennis world rankings, and win a giant occasion.

Carried out and accomplished, with a few added prospers.

Fritz, who grew up in Rancho Santa Fe and now lives in Miami, began the yr at No. 23 however completed No. 9 and is the top-ranked American man. In March, he gained his first Masters 1000 match — just under the 4 Grand Slams in significance — by ending a hobbled Rafael Nadal’s 20-match winning streak on the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, although an injured ankle almost compelled Fritz to withdraw earlier than the ultimate.

Fritz, 25, additionally made his deepest push in a Slam by reaching the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, the place he misplaced to Nadal in 5 units. Fritz gained titles on grass at Eastbourne, England, on hardcourts at Tokyo, and certified for the Assn. of Tennis Professionals year-end occasion, reaching the semifinals. Most lately, he earned a Davis Cup win over Lorenzo Musetti in November, defeated former world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev in a powerful discipline on the Diriyah Cup in an exhibition in Saudi Arabia earlier this month, and performed one other exhibition in Hong Kong.

“I might say this yr labored nice for me. I hit all of the objectives that I got down to obtain,” Fritz stated whereas visiting southern California to coach in Carson. “I will be grasping and say I wished it to be even higher, however I actually can’t complain with attaining a number of the issues I set out to do that yr.”

Progress has typically come slowly for Fritz, who has lengthy been thought of a member of the “subsequent era” that on some distant day will succeed Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Roger Federer as the game’s kings.

Federer has retired however Nadal, with a males’s-record 22 Slam singles titles, and Djokovic, with 21, aren’t conceding middle stage or middle courtroom. Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz, 19, jumped the succession line to win the U.S. Open and develop into No. 1, the youngest man to earn that distinction since rankings started in 1973. Third-ranked Casper Ruud (23), No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas (24), and No. 6 Felix Auger-Aliassime (22) are also youthful than Fritz, however there’s room for him up there, too.

“I’ve all the time felt very strongly that he’s a top-10 participant, so I’m not shocked in any respect. I suppose I might say I used to be a little bit bit shocked with all of the adversity that he’s handled this yr that he was capable of do it this yr,” Paul Annacone, who coaches Fritz together with Michael Russell, stated of the ankle harm and stress fracture that slowed Fritz and disrupted his coaching.

“To me, the largest factor is that now his common stage is significantly better, and I believe individuals don’t perceive that. Quite a lot of gamers, that’s the place they battle. They attempt to play good tennis. And though Taylor is a perfectionist, what he’s discovered to do is settle for that he’s not going to be good day-after-day and it doesn’t matter what’s there, he won’t relent by way of attempting to problem-solve and attempting to compete his manner into positions the place he will be profitable. That’s what he’s accomplished this yr.”

Taylor Fritz returns the ball to Novak Djokovic during their singles semifinal match of the ATP World Tour Finals.

Taylor Fritz returns the ball to Novak Djokovic throughout their singles semifinal match of the ATP World Tour Finals, on the Pala Alpitour in Turin, Italy, on Nov. 19.

(Antonio Calanni / Related Press)

Fritz’s eventful yr additionally included being adopted by cameras to be featured within the Netflix sequence “Break Point,” which is able to launch 5 episodes Jan. 13 and 5 extra in June.

“I’m trying ahead to seeing how the story is informed on my win at Indian Wells, however I’m a little bit nervous about watching myself on TV, so we’ll see,” he stated.

He additionally joined fellow tennis gamers Venus Williams and Frances Tiafoe to associate with on-line remedy platform betterhelp.com in providing as much as $3 million in free psychological well being remedy to those that want it.

Psychological well being is a well timed concern, given the struggles that overwhelmed famous person gymnast Simone Biles on the 2020 Olympics and the despair and nervousness which have derailed the profession of former ladies’s No. 1 Naomi Osaka.

“It’s only a nice initiative to assist individuals, and I do imagine there’s very a lot a stigma round in search of assist on your issues,” Fritz stated. “Individuals ought to simply be extra comfy with getting assist, and BetterHelp makes it as simple as potential.”

Fritz acknowledged that his psychological well being and happiness are tied to how properly he’s enjoying, which isn’t splendid. He has discovered that getting away from tennis relaxes him mentally and refreshes him bodily when he returns to the courtroom.

“I believe I’ve develop into much more self-aware of what I must do to mentally be feeling good and to have the ability to carry out properly,” he stated. “I believe competing with strain, coping with strain, is one thing that every one athletes cope with. Possibly individuals don’t wish to all the time converse out about it, as a result of I suppose everybody offers with it in another way. And it’s one thing we should always talk about brazenly.

“I additionally suppose what we do may be very worrying. There’s a ton of strain. And that’s really a part of our job, so we do need to do one of the best we will with our psychological well being and handle it as greatest as potential.”

That strain will rise, as a result of his success has created heightened expectations for his future. He’ll start his 2023 season by enjoying within the mixed-gender, team-format United Cup beginning Dec. 29 in Australia, and he plans to remain there to coach for the Australian Open, the yr’s first Slam.

Annacone stated 2023 can be enjoyable for Fritz, although it won’t all the time be simple. “One of many largest challenges for any younger participant who’s attempting to go from superb to nice is to again up their first yr like this,” stated Annacone, who additionally does commentary for Tennis Channel. “This yr, to me, goes to be, I believe, his largest problem.”

Fritz isn’t intimidated. “I wish to be prime 5 on the planet and I wish to have a giant, deep run at a Grand Slam, perhaps make a Grand Slam remaining. Win, clearly, however make a remaining,” he stated. “Begin there. And I simply wish to preserve enjoying the tennis I’ve been enjoying and never put an excessive amount of strain on myself. And I’d like to remain wholesome, as properly.”

Accidents are past his management. The remaining is bold, however potential. It’s his serve, his alternative to grab.