© Memphis Open/Alex Smith

Taylor Fritz defeats Benjamin Becker in a third-set tie-break in the quarter-finals.

Fritz Digs Deep In Memphis

American teen makes great escape

Less than 24 hours after an unexpected win, 18-year-old Taylor Fritz showed his mental toughness in a 6-4, 5-7, 7-6(5) win over German veteran Benjamin Becker at the Memphis Open. Becker served for the match at 6-5 in the deciding set, but Fritz broke back at 15 to force a tie-break.

“It’s incredible, I can’t believe it,” Fritz said. “To come back in that way, with him serving for the match, I’ll never forget that.

“I told myself that the balls were worn out, and that I just had to make him play. I tried to make him beat me under pressure.”

The Californian made a quick turnaround, both physically and mentally, after Thursday night’s upset win over second seed and practice partner Steve Johnson and became the youngest American in an ATP World Tour semi-final since 17-year-old Michael Chang won the 1989 Wembley title.

Fritz fired 13 aces and saved six of 11 break points in the two-hour, 20-minute battle.

Facing the rising star in the semi-finals will be Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis, who saw off third seed Donald Young 7-6(3), 6-1. No. 102 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, Berankis came into the match ranked 54 places below Young. However, he also knew what it took to get the better of the American left-hander, having won the pair’s lone tour-level meeting in San Jose five years ago.

“I’m very happy to be in my second ATP semi-final,” Berankis said. “Maybe it wasn’t Young’s best day today. He didn’t really have a plan B and thought I would put myself in trouble with fast shots and mistakes, but it didn’t work out for him.”

Unusually, Berankis went back on the court after his match to work on a few details ahead of his next match.

“(I hit some) extra serves, forehands, just to clean up some things in my game and to feel better tomorrow.”

Fritz will be looking to reach his first ATP World Tour final while Berankis has not taken part in one since Los Angeles 2012 (l. to Querrey).

More stories like this in: