(March 20, 2022) INDIAN WELLS, California – No. 20 seed American Taylor Fritz ended Rafael Nadal’s 20-match win streak by besting the Spaniard 6-3, 7-6 (5) to capture the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden to claim his first Masters Series 1000 title on Sunday. In the women’s final Poland’s Iga Swiatek raised her ranking to a career-high No. 2 when she bested Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-4, 6-1 to win the women’s title under extremely windy conditions.
Frtiz became the first American man to claim a Masters titles since 2018, when John Isner won the Miami Open. He’s also the first American to win the title in Indian Wells since Andre Agassi in 2001. With his career week he’ll move up in the rankings to a career-high No. 13
Before the men’s title match even began there were health questions about both players. Nadal has been dealing with left foot and pectoral muscle injuries, while Fritz could barely walk during an early practice on Sunday from an ankle injury sustained from near he end of his semifinal match.
“All the thing I can say is tough to breathe for me,” Nadal noted about his injury. “I don’t know, I feel very, very — when I try to breathe, it’s painful and it’s very uncomfortable.
“But that’s it, no? Is not the moment to talk about that honestly, no? Even if it’s obvious that I was not able to do the normal things today… That’s it. It’s a final. I tried. I lost against a great player.
“I think it’s not the day to talk about what’s going on on me. It’s his day. We don’t need to hide that in my comments.”
Frtiz: “I knew I tweaked my ankle yesterday, but I didn’t think too much of it. I thought I had things kind of hurt me, feel tweaked, I sleep it off, I’m kind of fine the next day. I kind of expected that to happen.
“It wasn’t till I got on the court to warm up. Took one push-off step, like, hard, I literally screamed. I tried it twice more. Both times, like, the worst pain imaginable. I was really upset, basically almost crying because I thought I was going to have to pull out.
“I went to the doctor. We did a lot of work on it. I numbed it. We tried to numb it up and stuff like that. Kind of went out there again after maybe like an hour of work. I started hitting. I realized, like, wow, maybe I can actually play.
“I had this, like, feeling of, like, hope kind of the next time I went back on the practice court. It was a game-time decision. A lot of members of my team wanted me to not play the match. I’m never going to let them forget that because I went on the court and it was a complete non-issue, didn’t feel it at all, didn’t hinder me at all.
“I know Rafa was dealing with some things as well. I can’t imagine how banged up someone’s body must be after 20-something straight matches, playing as much as he has.
“Yeah, I mean, I’m just so lucky I was able to go out there, play, play really well, and not be hindered at all by something that I thought was going to keep me from even going on the court.”
Nadal: “Well, have been a difficult day. Yeah, congrats to him. At the end that’s the main thing. The main thing in tennis, there is a winner and a loser. Today he’s the winner. He deserve it. He played aggressive, well, so congrats.”
“I try my best. Of course, have not been my day. But that happens. I have experience in all these situations. So is the moment, of course, is tough to play a final like this.
“Yeah, tried till the end. That’s it. Even I had my chances in the second set, I didn’t convert too many chances. That’s it, no? I think it’s a difficult match to analyze personally from my side because I was not able to do many things.
“But yeah, it’s a great victory for him. First Masters 1000. Big day for him. I just hope he enjoy it. I wish him all the very best.”
Swiatek: W”ell, I don’t know what to start with, honestly. It was a different match, for sure, because of the conditions. That was the first time I played with such a wind here. I was really lucky at the beginning of the tournament that my matches were scheduled without the wind, actually.
“For sure you could see that we are, at the beginning, a little bit stressed, and the wind is also not helping. But I’m pretty glad that I played better and better every game, and I managed to somehow find little bit of balance even in these conditions.
“At the end, for sure, my main goal was to just play in. It was pretty hard to actually play the tactics that I wanted because of the conditions. But I wanted just to stay consistent and really solid because that’s the most important thing when the ball is going, you know, in weird directions.”
Swiatek leads the WTA Tour in wins this year at 20-3. Her win was her fifth career WTA tournament trophy, one of them is the 2020 Roland Garros title.
“Right now, it’s too surreal to describe it, honestly,” said the new No. 2 player said after the match. “But for sure I want to go higher because I feel like getting the No. 1 is closer and closer.”
Sakkari: “I think I played some very, very good matches. I really believe I took a step forward this week, even though I lost today. As I said on court, it was a week that will have a special place in my heart. I know it sounds kind of weird because I did not win the tournament, but I felt like I improved as a player this week.
“I’m just going to take that with me and move forward.”
For her efforts this week, Sakkari moves up to a career-high No. 3.
More to follow….