Playing his first round match at the BNP Paribas Open, nineteen-year-old American Taylor Fritz took just over an hour to dispatch Frenchman Benoit Paire 63, 62. On the surface this could have been an engaging match – the Southern California-raised Fritz, up against a man who can sizzle. But in this case, Paire melted, early in the match consulting a trainer for a foot-related injury. Soon enough, all the air went out of the balloon. With Paire limited to random cracks and frequent drop shots, a composed Fritz raced through each set and earned his first main draw win this went.
“I always think I play well here,” Fritz said of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. “This is where I'm from. I have played in Indian Wells since I was, like, eight years old probably, I have come down here for tournaments. Just being from San Diego my whole life and having a lot of family that lives out here in the desert, it's like a second home to me.
“I have been telling everyone this week, man, I think I have been playing my best tennis ever this week. It's been going really well in practice, and I just hope that I can kind of just bring that onto the court in my next match.”
Next for Fritz, a much rougher customer than Paire: a first time meeting with the sixth seed here, 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic.
Said Fritz on that matchup, “We do have similar-type games, we're both pretty serve-dependent. I'd say we are both pretty solid off of both sides and play aggressive baseline tennis. . . So if that's the play, then hopefully I can create chances on his serve. It's going to be one of those matches where I'm going to have to just control my service games and then, when I get the chances on his serve, I need to take them.”