Taylor Fritz stunned top-seeded Rafael Nadal by putting a break to his 20-match winning streak as the latter faced heavy defeat 6-3, 7-6 in the final of Indian Wells Masters 2022. Fritz, who came into the tournament after recovering from an ankle injury, became the first American man to lift the Indian Wells title since Andre Agassi. Nadal, who was battling chest pain during the contest, could not cope with the loss in the first set and suffered consecutive losses in straight sets.
Loss at Indian Wells is Nadal’s maiden loss of the season, after 20 straight wins. After this defeat, Rafa failed to lift the fourth trophy in 2022. He missed a chance to secure the first desert crown since 2012 and join Novak Djokovic on 37 Masters 1000 titles. Taylor is also the first American Masters 1000 winner since John Isner in Miami 2018. Aged 24, he is now the youngest champion in the desert since Novak Djokovic.
The 35-year old Spaniard seemed to be clearly out of sorts before the start of the match with Fritz breaking him twice on the way to a 4-0 lead. But Nadal refused to stay cold and bounced back stronger to get to 5-3, inspiring the packed stadium.
However, Fritz, who was unsure of taking the court before the match due to ankle injury, held his nerves and halted Nadal’s rally with a third break to grab a one-set lead. However, Nadal made the second thrilling as he forced the second set to a tie-break but, in the end, could not prove his point by winning the game. In the post-match presentation, Fritz admitted that he swallowed real pain during the game and wouldn’t have come out here if he knew the gravity of pain.
“I was just trying to act tough as cameras were on me, but the win helped me cope,” said Fritz.