© Alex Smith

Teenager Taylor Fritz upsets Steve Johnson in Memphis.

Taylor Fritz In Uncharted Territory

Californian teen into first quarter-final

Wild card Taylor Fritz, aged 18, scored his biggest win to date against a familiar opponent in Memphis on Thursday night.

Fritz survived 12 aces to upset second seed Steve Johnson in a 7-6(5), 7-6(7) affair and became the first 18-year-old American to make an ATP World Tour quarter-final since Denis Kudla did so in Newport five years ago.

“I played the big points well,” Fritz said. “He had a lot more chances than me. He didn’t do anything wrong, but I played just about as well as I could play on the big points. I think that was the difference.”

Johnson, ranked No. 29 and eight years Fritz’s senior, applied heavy pressure on the World No. 145’s service games in the opening set. Fritz dug deep to save seven break points after dropping serve in the first game before breaking back and securing the tie-break on his fourth set point.

“It’s funny because we practice with each other all the time, and he always breaks me in the first game,” Fritz revealed. “I guess we had to get that out of the way.

“Usually when I practice with him, I don’t do so well. I usually don’t win.”

"He played an insane match," Johnson said. "It's the best he's played at this level by far. It's a tough one for me, but it's not the end of the world. There's a tournament next week so I'll just have to get ready for that."

In the second set tie-break, Johnson had a chance to level the match at 7/6, but saw his fellow Californian sweep the next three points to advance. In the next round, Fritz will hope to build on his best week yet as a professional against Benjamin Becker.

Becker overturned a 0-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against seventh-seeded Australian John Millman to register a 6-2, 7-6(6) victory.

The 34 year old progressed to the quarter-finals in one hour and 21 minutes. After Becker took the opening set without losing a point on his second serve, he quickly found himself trailing a break at 3-0 in the second. The German rallied to break back, however, and saved a set point in the second-set tie-break before closing out the win.

American No. 3 seed Donald Young is through to his first quarter-final of the season after downing Marcel Granollers 6-1, 7-6(2). The World No. 48 in the Emirates ATP Rankings dropped his opening serve before reeling off six games to take the first set, breaking serve three times en route. 

“It was good. Apart from the first game it was a really solid match,” Young said. “I was able to be aggressive and put some pressure on and not allow him to do the usual mix of shots that he likes to pull out.”

Players traded breaks of serve early in the second before games continued on serve until the tie-break. From there, it was all Young. Making his seventh appearance in the tournament, the 26 year old closed it out on his first match point and moved to within one win of matching his semi-final run from last year.

“This year, it’s the best I’ve played, even though I haven’t played many matches,” Young said. “I didn’t want to go three. Anything could happen in the third if he got momentum.”

He will face Ricardas Berankis next, after the Lithuanian upset Bosnian eighth seed Damir Dzumhur 6-3, 6-4. Berankis, World No. 102 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, had claimed the pair’s only prior clash in Brisbane two years ago and broke serve three times in the opening set.

The 25 year old broke Dzumhur’s serve to love to close out the match in one hour and 23 minutes. He will carry a 1-0 FedEx Head2Head record into his match against Young.

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