Taylor Fritz broke down in tears as he looked toward his family and team in the stands after he finished his speech on the court at Indian Wells.
He said that winning this tournament is one of those crazy childhood dreams that he thinks is never going to happen.
Long considered one of the best hopes among the American men to contend for big titles, Fritz had won just once on the ATP Tour prior to Sunday at a 250-level tournament in Eastbourne in 2019. The California native, who had come to the tournament as a fan, had an impressive run during his time at the tournament, including a straight-set victory over Rublev in the semifinals, but few thought he could defeat Nadal, who was riding.
Many wondered if he would be able to play after he had to end his practice on Sunday morning due to an ankle injury. His coaches told him to pull out of the match.
But he has always been a fighter. He underwent surgery after leaving the court in his second-round match at the French Open in a wheelchair, but returned in time for Wimbledon less than a month later.
As soon as the match began, Fritz showed no signs of pain, nor of nerves, as he faced Nadal. After jumping out to a big lead, Fritz didn't lose a point on serve in the first two games. After the first set, Nadal had difficulty breathing and chest pain and needed medical treatment. The second set was more competitive, but that didn't stop Fritz from winning in the tiebreak.
After winning the final point and handing Nadal his first loss of the year, Fritz fell to the ground in a mixture of joy and disbelief. He put his head in his hands and cried.
I think I can do it against Rafa in the end, that's insane, I don't know. I watched someone dominate and win everything. I didn't watch a lot of tennis growing up, but it was difficult to not know these guys, they were winning everything, their Grand Slam finals, all their battles.
It is insane to be on the same court with these people and not be able to beat one of them. To do it here in Indian Wells, as well, the combination of all these crazy things that I never thought possible.
Living the DREAM#IndianWells | @Taylor_Fritz97 pic.twitter.com/8kJDpw47Hw— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) March 21, 2022
The first American, male or female, to win the title in Indian Wells since 2001 and the first countryman to do so at any Masters 1000 event since John Isner in Miami, were both by Fritz. The top-ranked male player from the United States will be overtaken by Fritz on Monday.
A new generation of tennis players has arrived to the top of the sport and is capable of beating anyone, as shown by the victories of Iga Swiatek and Fritz immediately after she won the women's title. While Swiatek is already a major champion, she has been public since her breakthrough victory at the 2020 French Open about the need for consistency on the women's side and pointed to what her childhood idol Nadal, and Djokovic and Roger Federer had been able to do over their.
Swiatek said that the biggest change for her would be to be consistent. We have a lot of new Grand Slam winners because we are not as consistent as Roger and Novak.
My goal is to be consistent. It is going to be difficult to achieve that.
Even for those considered among the best of all time, it was hard for Nadal to win at the highest level on Sunday. Swiatek found a way again.
It was her fifth title on the tour and third at the 1000 level. Since 2009, she has won a number of trophies.
She will move to a new career-high ranking of 2nd in the world on Monday and match the record for highest-ranked Polish tennis player in history.
Swiatek said that titles are what she expects from herself now that she has won two tournaments in a row. I think it is getting easier for me to focus on playing and not think about the statistics. It is giving me a lot of confidence. I can enjoy and celebrate today because I can.
I need to be focused on the match when I play in Miami next week. Every tournament has a different story. Even though we are showing the consistency, the players that I mentioned, likeakkari, Paula Badosa, Ons Jabeur and Anett Kontaveit, are still capable of winning any tournament.
There has been a lack of consistency in women's tennis since Serena Williams took maternity leave. Since Swiatek won the French Open in October of 2020, there have been four different women's major champion in five events. Since the start of the 2016 season, 14 women have won a Grand Slam event. All but four of those titles have been won by Nadal, Federer and Djokovic.
Swiatek is one of the few players who can win week after week and on more than one surface. During the upcoming clay-court season, he will have the chance to prove that he is capable of doing that, even though he hasn't proven it yet.
He didn't make any promises about what to expect from him going forward after he said he wasn't sure if he would be able to play Miami. He said he knew he could do more, even though he was satisfied with Sunday's victory.
I want to take it one step at a time. For the last couple months, my goal has been to be in the top 10. This helps a lot and puts me closer to that goal. That is the goal for now, top 10.
I would love to achieve way more than that. Take it one step at a time, not get ahead of yourself, it is just one tournament. Don't be satisfied with the good results, go back to work. Just keep wanting more.