American Taylor Fritz had his first taste of facing world number one Carlos Alcaraz in a Miami Open quarter-final loss on Friday (AEDT) and said it had been a tougher experience than facing any of the sport’s former ‘Big Three’.
The powerful Alcaraz dominated from the outset, breaking the tenth-ranked Fritz at the start of each set as he won 6-4, 6-2 in 78 minutes.
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Asked how his maiden appearance against the 19-year-old Spaniard compared to his first matches against the now retired Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic, Fritz did not disguise his opinion.
“Oh, I definitely felt like I had more breathing room against those guys than in this match,” he said.
“I think that it’s different game styles. Novak will have these long rallies, but he’ll kind of slowly get you out of position and overwhelm you. I still feel like I can hang in these rallies for a long time and get more chances to attack,” he said.
“I think that I’d go back to the first couple games of the match. He just hit winners off of a lot of shots, shots that people normally aren’t hurting me off of.
“I just felt he was more offensive and pressed me a lot more,” he said. Fritz believes that Alcaraz is ahead of where multiple Grand Slam winners Federer, Nadal and Djokovic were in their late teens.
“It’s not even what I saw today. It’s what I have seen for a while now. I said it a year ago when I watched him play, for how young he is, he just has all the tools,” he said.
“He can come to the net, he can dropshot you, he can lob you, he’s incredibly fast, he has all the power, his forehand is good, his backhand is good,” he said.
“It’s very rare to see someone so young so developed in their game and not really have anything that they need to work on so much,” he said.
“He has tons of different ways to play, and he can incorporate tons of different game plans to play different players because he has so many tools to win a match.
“I think that’s something that I wouldn’t say any of those people had at such a young age. There is always I guess things that people need to improve on,” he said.
Alcaraz, who plays Jannik Sinner in the Miami Open semi-final on Saturday, started his rapid rise in the past year by winning Miami before his first Grand Slam win at the US Open.
The Spaniard is now looking to complete the ‘Sunshine Double’ following his win at Indian Wells earlier this month.
Fritz certainly expects to see plenty more victories for the 19-year-old who he says is already the complete package and conceded he simply couldn’t cope with the start of the match.
“I did feel the level of the first three games was absolutely unbearable. He was hitting clean winners off of 110-mile-an-hour second serves I was hitting into his body. I’m stepping up and crushing backhands cross, and he’s going open-stance backhand line winners off of that,” he said.
“That wasn’t the level for the rest of the match. I was able to settle in much more, and he wasn’t doing that the whole match. But he obviously possesses that level, and for those first couple of games, it was pretty overwhelming”.