Djokovic ‘cleared out of the way’ for Nadal says host
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American tennis star Taylor Fritz ignored his team’s advice to sit out the Indian Wells final against Rafael Nadal in order to focus on rehabilitating his ankle. Fritz’s team advised the 24-year-old to give Nadal a walkover after it became clear he was struggling with an injury.
Fritz became hampered by an ankle injury just three hours before the start of the match as the American was practicing on court. He reportedly left the practice court after a few minutes due to the discomfort in his ankle.
Fritz ultimately decided to play on and he ended up stunning Nadal 6-3 7-6(5) to secure his first Masters title. Coach and tennis analyst Paul Annacone revealed he and the rest of Fritz’s staff told the American not to play.
“All three of his team, me, Mike Russell and [fitness trainer] Wolfgang Oswald all said ‘Do not play this match,’” Annacone told the Tennis Channel. “He said ‘I am playing. I can do this. I want to get out on the court with Rafa and see if I can overcome.’”
Fritz was extremely emotional after winning Indian Wells, becoming the first American to win the famous California tournament since Andre Agassi in 2001. He was fighting his emotions during the on-court trophy ceremony.
“I can’t even begin to describe how ridiculous it is that I was able to play how I could play today,” Fritz said after his victory. “I’ve never experienced worse pain in my life before a match.
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“We did a lot of work leading up to the match and I went through a roller coaster of emotions before the match, from thinking there was no way I could possibly play to then doing all this work on the ankle, doing so much stuff to it…. I came out here and it didn’t really affect me at all.”
Nadal entered the final with a perfect 20-0 record in 2022 but failed to win his fourth title of the year as the Spaniard made 34 unforced errors against Fritz. The 21-time Grand Slam winner will compete for the French Open title at Roland Garros in May.
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