IT is time for Taylor Fritz to make his move. The 23-year-old American has been been in the Top 100 since shooting up to 81st in the world rankings back in February, 2016. Then, the 18-year-old was seen as one of the many youngsters ready to take the world by storm and be the next big thing from the United States.
Unfortunately it did not quite go to plan, and Fritz’s 2017 was a forgettable one where he yo-yo’d in and out of the Top 100, before a new year in 2018 saw him crack it again and this time he would not drop out. While Fritz has not had a substantial drop in the past three years, he really has not made any inroads, and has hovered around the Top 30 for some time, reaching 24th in the world last August, and currently sitting 30th.
Fritz is still young, but at 23, he should be hitting his peak, and at 193cm, the American has plenty of potential. He has just one title – at Eastbourne in 2019 – with four finals losses. He runs at close to 50 per cent success across all surfaces, and is not phased by either left or right handers with an even billing there too. On paper, he should not have too many weaknesses, able to serve strongly – winning 75 per cent of his first serve points – return relatively well and have a solid all-round forehand and backhand shot selection.
The issue from a service perspective is more his efficiency, putting just 59 per cent of his first serves in court, then having to recover by winning 50 per cent of his second serve points. He is the furthest thing from a volleyer, and prefers to keep the tempo from the baseline, which is his style, being a strong server, then baseline talent.
In his win against Slovakian Andrej Martin overnight, Fritz took 93 minutes to win 6-2 7-6. After cruising in the first set, he did not have the same level of control in the second, as Martin lifted and forced Fritz to fight out a tiebreaker, something the American seed has become fairly good at over his career. On this occasion, Fritz won 7-4 and therefore booked his spot in the quarter finals at the Sardegna Open.
He only produced the two aces, but three double faults and served at a 55 per cent efficiency, which summarised him in a nutshell. He won 68 and 44 per cent of his first and second serve points, breaking five times to three. What did stand out was his much higher first serve return, which is often quite low, but Fritz won 46 per cent of points off the Slovakian’s first serve. It meant he could take control upon return, and if he could tighten up his efficiency, he could go a long way on Tour.
He will now face Slovenian Aljaz Bedene in the quarter finals, after Bedene defeated Belarusian Egor Gerasimov in straight sets, 6-4- 7-6. Fritz and Bedene played for the first time in the Cincinnati Masters 1000 last year, with the Slovenian emerging triumphant 7-6 7-5 in a nail-biter. It is not a result that would haunt Fritz too much, and the world number 30’s best is better than Bedene’s, but the Slovenian can be a tricky opponent. In that match, Bedene had one more ace (11-10), and ironically Fritz’s first serve was more efficient (63 per cent), but his worries with first serve return success at a shocking 16 per cent. He will need to have more resistance on the clay against Bedene than he did on the hard courts that day.
Also into the quarter finals are fourth and fifth seeds Nikoloz Basilashvili and Jan-Lennard Struff who both won through with respective wins over qualifiers. They are in the top half of the draw though, with top seed Daniel Evans to play teenage wonderkid Lorenzo Musetti today, and Laslo Djere to face off against John Millman for the other spot. In the bottom half of the the draw, and upset by German Yannick Hanfmann over American Tommy Paul in the first round has really opened the draw wide up, and Hanfmann will now take on clay court specialist Marco Cecchinato, with the Italian’s compatriot Lorenzo Sonego entering the tournament up against reliable Frenchman Gilles Simon.
Fritz has the best chance to-date of adding a second title to his name, and whilst hard court might be his preferred surface, he is able to hide his first serve return worries on clay, and still be a dangerous server. He will have to overcome more clay-competent players, but he has the talent and should at least make a final at Sardegna, with the top half of the draw much more stacked than the bottom half.
Meanwhile over at the Andalucia Open, it was a rather predictable day, with three of the four seeds advancing. Tournament favourite Pablo Carreno Busta defeated Spanish compatriot and qualifier Mario Vilella Martinez, joining fourth seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the final eight. Korean Soonwoo Kwon also made his way through with a triumph over Argentinian Facundo Bagnis, whilst Slovakian Norbert Gombos took down eighth seed Argentinian Federico Delbonis.
SARDEGNA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:
 Taylor Fritz (USA) defeated Andrej Martin (SVK) 6-2 7-6
 Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) defeated [Q] Jozef Kovalik (SVK) 4-6 6-4 7-5
 Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) defeated [Q] Liam Broady (GBR) 6-4 6-2
Aljaz Bedene (SLO) defeated Egor Gerasimov (BLR) 6-4 7-6
ANDALUCIA OPEN ROUND OF 16 RESULTS:
 Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) defeated [Q] Mario Vilella Martinez (ESP) 7-6 6-3
 Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) defeated Ricardas Berankis (LTU) 6-3 4-6 6-3
 Soonwoo Kwon (KOR) defeafed Facundo Bagnis (ARG) 6-1 6-3
Norbert Gombos (SVK) defeated  Federico Delbonis (ARG) 5-7 7-6 7-6