• The American spent seven days in quarantine in a Seoul hotel room after getting ‘pretty sick’
American Taylor Fritz said he surprised even himself after climbing out of his sickbed, flying to Tokyo and beating Australian James Duckworth at the Japan Open yesterday.
Fritz spent seven days in quarantine in a Seoul hotel room after getting “pretty sick” upon arriving last week for the Korea Open, which he was forced to withdraw from.
The 24-year-old left South Korea and flew to Japan on Wednesday morning and barely had time to practise before he was due on court for his first-round match against the unseeded Duckworth.
The number three seed still emerged a 6-2, 6-7 (2/7), 6-1 winner and said the match had been “better than I thought it would be”.
“I don’t feel amazing but I’m really happy that I was able to go through all that and still show up for my match,” said Fritz.
Fritz said he had only been well enough to exercise in his room three days before he left quarantine.
But he made short work of the first set against world number 109 Duckworth and closed out the match convincingly despite a difficult second set.
“I felt, for whatever reason, confidence that I was going to be able to come out of the lockdown and strike the ball well,” said Fritz.
“I was more concerned about the cardio and my condition after being really sick and not being able to do anything.”
Earlier in the day, Canadian number seven seed Denis Shapovalov beat American Steve Johnson 6-3, 7-6 (7/3).
Shapovalov lost to Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in the final of last week’s Korea Open and he said the Wednesday start to his Tokyo campaign had helped him recover.
“I think the most important thing for me is to feel mentally fresh,” said the world number 22.
“I feel mentally very motivated, and when you do lose in a final it almost motivates you a bit more than winning, to play the next week.”
Nishioka was looking to make a triumphant homecoming after winning his second ATP Tour title in Seoul but he lost 2-6, 7-6 (7/1), 6-2 to Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic.
“I was playing good tennis but then I started to get tired and I think the fact I couldn’t close out the match in the second set was the reason I lost,” said Nishioka.
In a second-round match-up earlier in the day, South Korea’s Kwon Soonwoo beat American Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 6-7 (4/7), 6-2.
Alcaraz confidence dented by defeat in first Tour match as number one
Carlos Alcaraz’s first ATP Tour event as world number one ended in a 7-5 6-3 defeat to David Goffin at the Astana Open on Tuesday and the Spaniard said he would have to learn how to play against opponents who dial up the pressure and aggression. Alcaraz, the youngest player to top the men’s world rankings, was broken five times by lucky loser Goffin.
“He played better than me, really, really aggressive,” said 19-year-old Alcaraz, who won his first Grand Slam title at the US Open last month.
“I couldn’t handle that pressure that he was pushing on me and of course, it’s something that I have to learn and take lessons from this match.
“Coming back to competition is never easy. He played two matches here on this court. It’s not easy to get used to, it’s really, really slow. It was really tough on me, for my confidence,” Alcaraz added.
Alcaraz, who has qualified for the season-ending ATP Finals, is next scheduled to compete at the ATP 500 event in Basel later this month.
Goffin said he had been confident of pulling off an upset despite not playing well in his last few tournaments.
“When you play against the world number one on a big stage, big crowd, the fire inside gives you so much power to play your best tennis because you don’t have any choice,” he said.
“You have to fight and give your best and that was the case today.”
Goffin only earned a spot in the main draw after the withdrawal of Danish teenager Holger Rune. He plays Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in the last 16.
“I always believe that I have the level to cause some trouble against those guys,” said Goffin, a former top-10 player now ranked 66th. “When you play against the world number one on a big stage, big crowd, the fire inside gives you so much power to play your best tennis because you don’t have any choice.
“You have to fight and give your best and that was the case today. I always believed I had it and I am happy you can still it there.”