Friday, March 11, 2016

Tiafoe tops Fritz in battle of U.S. prospects

Frances Tiafoe, playing in the Fairfield (Calif.) Challenger
last October, beat fellow 18-year-old Taylor Fritz in the
first round at Indian Wells. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Taylor Fritz has skyrocketed from No. 694 in the world to No. 80 in less than six months.
   But he still can't solve rival Frances Tiafoe.
   In a battle of 18-year-old U.S. wild cards and potential superstars, Tiafoe defeated Fritz 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 on Thursday in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
   Tiafoe and Fritz played during the day session in 16,100-seat Stadium 1, the second-largest tennis facility in the world behind 23,771-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   It was the first meeting between Tiafoe, from the Washington, D.C., area, and Fritz, playing in his native Southern California, in a professional tournament. Tiafoe was 3-0 against Fritz in the juniors.
   It was also only the fourth match between male teenagers in Indian Wells. The last was in 2007, when Novak Djokovic beat fellow 19-year-old Evgeny Korolev 6-2, 6-1 in the third round.
   "Just won my first ATP 1000 match at Indian Wells," Tiafoe tweeted. "I couldn't be happier right now, but this is only the beginning. Hopefully many more wins at this level."
   Fritz won Northern California Challengers in Sacramento and Fairfield back-to-back last October. Tiafoe reached the Fairfield semifinals.
   Tiafoe, ranked No. 177, will face 15th-seeded David Goffin of Belgium in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open. All seeds received first-round byes.
   Meanwhile, Dmitry Tursunov's struggles in Indian Wells continued. The 33-year-old Russian, who has a residence in the Sacramento suburb of Folsom, lost to Illya Marchenko of Ukraine 7-5, 7-6 (6).
   Tursunov, a former top-20 player, has failed to advance past the second round in nine appearances in Indian Wells. His powerful groundstrokes tend to sail in the desert air.
   In the opening round of women's doubles, eighth-seeded Raquel Atawo (formerly Kops-Jones) of San Jose and Abigail Spears of Colorado Springs, Colo., beat Vera Dushevina of Russia and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-4.

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