Fritz Sets Federer Clash; Del Potro Makes Winning Return
American teen saves one match point in opening win
#NextGen star Taylor Fritz saved one match point as he finished strongly to defeat qualifier Fabrice Martin 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-1 on Tuesday in the first round of the MercedesCup in Stuttgart.
In just his third tour-level match on grass, Fritz rallied from down 5/6 in the second set tie-break to level the match, before breaking serve three times as he raced through the decider, sealing victory in 88 minutes.
The 18-year-old Fritz sets a second-round clash with top seed Roger Federer, who is returning from injury after being forced to miss Roland Garros.
"It's amazing being able to play the next round, because growing up, Federer was the guy that nobody could beat," said Fritz. "I grew up in that generation of him just dominating, so it's crazy now to be stepping on the court with him.
"I remember I was in fifth grade in my computer class. We were supposed to be doing some kind of assignment and I was live streaming the US Open final, Federer versus [Juan Martin] del Potro [in 2009]. Sitting there then, I never thought that at the same tournament I'd be playing against Federer and playing doubles with del Potro."
Del Potro made a welcome return to action as he defeated Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-2 in the first round. Taking a measured and cautious approach to his comeback from wrist surgery, del Potro is playing his first event since the Mutua Madrid Open. He dismissed Dimitrov in 69 minutes, firing 12 aces and dropping only 10 points on serve.
The Argentine is playing his first grass-court tournament since reaching the semi-finals at 2013 Wimbledon (l. to Djokovic) and goes on to face John Millman, who defeated eighth seed Lucas Pouille 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4 in just over two hours.
German qualifier Florian Mayer upset sixth seed Viktor Troicki 6-4, 7-6(4) in 71 minutes, claiming just his second tour-level win of the season. The former Top 20 player is on the comeback after returning from a torn tendon in his right adductor in Bucharest.
Fifth seed Feliciano Lopez was also beaten in the first round, falling 7-6(3), 6-3 to Mikhail Youzhny. Youzhny claimed his first tour-level win since reaching the second round in Barcelona in April as he defeated Lopez in 89 minutes.
Qualifier Radek Stepanek will face second seed Marin Cilic in the second round after defeating Denis Istomin 7-5, 3-6, 6-3.
Seventh seed Philipp Kohlschreiber needed just 55 minutes to get past Pierre-Hugues Herbert, beating the Frenchman 6-4, 6-1 while dropping only eight points on serve. German Jan-Lennard Struff gained his first win in Stuttgart during his third try, dismissing Marcos Baghdatis 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.