After spending a week quarantining in Seoul, Taylor Fritz arrived in Tokyo on Wednesday just in time to win his opening match — a three-setter against James Duckworth. The American repeated the feat on Thursday, edging Tokyo native Hiroki Moriya 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals at the Rakuten Japan Tennis Championships.
Following his first-round victory, Fritz said that his main concern was his fitness after falling ill with COVID-19 and being in lockdown. But the third seed once again rose to the occasion in the final set to reach his eighth quarter-final of the season.
While he gave a good report on his health following the second-round victory, Fritz said his biggest issue is a lack of practice time as he adapts to the fast conditions in the Ariake Colosseum.
"Physically, I feel good," he said post-match. "It's more just not having been able to practise and play... It's tough for me to feel good about going for my shots and being aggressive. So I guess it's good I'm getting a lot of time on the court."
Thursday's match clocked in at just under two hours, finishing just before 11 p.m., while his Wednesday win lasted one hour and 45 minutes.
The energetic Tokyo crowd played a big role in the late-night match, urging Moriya on as he took the match to his opponent in set two. After losing six straight games to concede the opening set, the home favourite did not face a break point in the second.
"I felt like he really upped his level in the second and he played a lot better," Fritz said. "Things got very close."
Fritz regained control in the third and broke late in the set, but failed to serve out the match at 5-4. Undeterred, he secured his fifth break of the match to clinch victory. After finishing with 14 aces, Fritz is counting on his serve to propel him in his quarter-final showdown with Nick Kyrgios.
"It's going to be a big emphasis on the serve," he said, previewing the matchup. "I'm going to need to serve well, like I did yesterday in my first match. It's going to be close."
Kyrgios defeated Poland's Kamil Majchrzak 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 earlier in the day.
The marquee matchup between Kyrgios and Fritz is scheduled to kick off Friday's evening session, with a start time of not before 6 p.m. The pair, who played three doubles events together in the 2019 season, will meet for just the second time on the singles court. Fritz won their previous ATP Head2Head meeting 6-3, 6-2 in Cincinnati in August.
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