Taylor Fritz: ‘I have proven that I belong’ | TBEN | Tennis

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It’s been a year of firsts for Taylor Fritz. The American won his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells in March and reached the Top 10 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in October before making his debut this week at the Nitto ATP Finals.

Despite a broken heart in the semi-final against Novak Djokovic in Turin on Saturday, the 25-year-old revealed he was proud of his season as he reflected on his new status in the sport.

“I definitely feel like I belong,” said Fritz, number 9 in the world, during his post-match press conference. “I think I’ve proven I belong in the Top 10 and I belong here. I just have to keep working hard.

“Luckily for me, I think there are a lot of positives to take from this year, which I finished in. I finished where I finished and I pretty much missed the entire clay court season, I had no practice in the beginning of the hard court season. I was dealing with injuries and yet I had a really solid year. I just feel like getting back to work and keep improving. Next year [I will] look to strengthen my place even more.

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Fritz secured round-robin victories against Rafael Nadal and Felix Auger-Aliassime in 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 seemed to miss the game 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.

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The world number 9 admitted that despite his disappointment in the semi-finals, he was pleased with how he seized his opportunity in northern Italy.

“I’m sure I’ll look back in two weeks and say, ‘It was a really great week,'” Fritz said. “Not only did I get the chance to [Nitto ATP] Final, I came out of the group. I had two good wins.

“I could have finished my year with a second round loss in Paris and that would have been it. I would have entered the off-season if that was the last game. Now I’m going to feel a lot better about my tennis, about my game being ready for the season after this performance. So it’s great.”

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Fritz, who made his debut at the year-end event this week, also feels the experience of competing in Turin will help him move forward.

“I love the event,” said Fritz. “I like that you can lose a game and still have the chance to come back and improve. It’s something completely different. I’ve never lost a game and then had to jump right back in. After the game everything do 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, being cooped up all the time. On Tour, the top players are constant every week. That’s one thing you can take out. Even after you lose, just keep at it.