Young, Fritz Advance to Memphis Quarterfinals

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Copyright © 2016. No duplication is permitted without permission from Bob Larson Tennis.

Memphis Open Tennis News

In the first match on Stadium Court for Session Seven, American Donald Young took on the gritty grinder from Spain, Marcel Granollers.

Young enters his 12th season on the ATP World Tour still seeking his first career title. Following a memorable run at last year’s US Open, Young looks to use that same momentum to capitalize on a successful 2016.

That momentum seemed lost for the first five minutes of the match, but all thoughts of that would soon be erased. After dropping serve and losing the opening game, Young stormed back to win six straight games to close out the first set, 6-1.

Entering the second set, Young broke early again, but the 2012 Barclays ATP World Tour doubles titlist upped his level of play to turn the second set into a “grunt match.”

With both players using their groans after each groundstroke to distract their opponents, the second set would be decided by a tiebreaker. But after a few loose points off the racket of the Spaniard, Young was headed for his third quarterfinal here in Memphis, 6-1, 7-6(2).

“Marcel is a competitor, he was not about to go out like that,” Young said. “In the end he raised his game and I had to raise mine. This is the best I’ve played so far this year and I’m happy to do it here. “

Ricardas Berankis, the only Lithuanian player to ever win an ATP title, extended his 2-0 record over No.8 seed Damir Dzumhur to three after defeating the native of Bosnia and Herzegovina, 6-3, 6-4.

Berenkis and Young will meet in the quarterfinals Thursday at 3:00 pm on the Grandstand.

In another all-American battle, No. 2 seed Steve Johnson faced off against 18-year old phenom Taylor Fritz.

Much buzz was surrounding this match-up of practice partners out of California. With both players seeking their first quarterfinal of the year, Johnson, his first since Valencia in October and Fritz, his first ever.

The young American attempted to rely on his big forehand and serve early in the match, but they would only give Johnson slight problems, as he was able to maneuver around the court and run up to a 4-2 lead.

The turning point at the match could have never been predicted. With Fritz serving, down 15-40, Johnson was sure to obtain the double break. Out of nowhere, the backhand slices of Johnson that were once troubling Fritz, forced him to become patient in rallies and fight his way back into the set.

After breaking back, the longer the rallies became, the more points went the teenager’s way. Within minutes, the routine first set for Johnson became a frustrating struggle to keep from succumbing to his younger opponent.

With the set now in a tiebreaker, it was evident who the crowd was now cheering for. At the first sight of a set point, the crowd erupted in favor of 18-year-old.  The help guided the teen to winning the first set off an overhead winner.

The second set was nothing short of a dogfight. After a trade of breaks, another tiebreaker would be the deciding factor.

The second tiebreaker would be full of amazing shots in pressure situations from both players.  Nerves may have gotten to Fritz on his first match point at 6-5, dumping a routine forehand into the net, but regained composure enough to fight off a Johnson set point at 7-6.

With another match point at hand from two Johnson fly balls, Fritz sealed the deal attacking the Johnson second serve, forcing a backhand error, 7-6(5), 7-6(7).

“Throughout the match it was in my head that he always breaks me in the first game when we practice,” Fritz said. “I told myself that I have to get into the match and start moving better. It feels amazing beating a top 30 player and taking the next step.”

Fritz, facing Benjamin Becker tomorrow at 3:00 pm, is now the first American teen to make an ATP quarterfinal appearance since Denis Kudla in 2011 at Newport.

Copyright © 2016. No duplication is permitted without permission from Bob Larson Tennis.