When the top seed and #2 ranked player in the world finally subdued his eager American opponent and was presented with the trophy, a magnificent piece of hardware that looked like a giant silver peach with a yellow tennis ball ensconced in the middle of it, he looked particularly happy, but he wasn’t supremely content until they placed the Champion’s Sombrero on top of his head. Rafa had reached the summit in Mexico, yet again.
Rafa Nadal, a magnificent tennis machine, simply ground down Taylor Fritz with relentless pursuit of every shot the American threw at him. Rafa pressed the American to the point where Fritz overhit his trademark forehand, and appeared frustrated, to the point where, at 2-2 in the second set, surrendered, as he lost four straight games to see the title go to the deserved Mallorcan 6-3, 6-2.
The match started benign enough for the Californian. Each player held serve three times, but with Fritz serving at 3-4 he hit a couple of important forehands with a bit too much pace that produced errors which gave Rafa the only real opening he needed. He ran through the rest of the set and appeared unstoppable. When they each held their serves twice to begin the second set, it appeared like it was only a matter of time until the Spaniard would break. And break he did. His relentless pressure was unnerving, and Fritz looked like he was hitting uphill…from both sides of the net.
Rafa was particularly efficient on his serve, which, for some reason doesn’t get the credit it deserves. He won 83% of points played on his first serve, and an incredible 76% of the points played on his second serve. When anyone plays that well, the outcome is inevitable.
Rafa also won 65% of the points played on Fritz’ second serve, so the relentless pressure the Spaniard put on his American opponent didn’t end with his accurate groundies. Fritz’ response? He won only 17% of the points played on Rafa’s first serve (5 of 29) and 24% of those that he got a look at as second serves (4 of 17). That’s not going to win many matches, whether it’s against Rafa or anyone else.
Still, Fritz should feel proud for getting to the finals of this event, his first final in an ATP 500 tournament. He’ll take away $187,110 and park 300 ATP ranking points in his column, which should push his ranking, due Monday, up to a career high No. 24.