Down with Taylor Fritz

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Down with Taylor Fritz
Down with Taylor Fritz


Taylor Fritz photographed by Noua Unu Studio for Interview Magazine in 2020.

Professional tennis is fast approaching the crossroads of generations. “The old world is dying and the new is struggling to be born,” the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci once wrote. With the retirement of the old guard of Federer and Serena, a new class of stars is emerging, both on and off the court. More than ever, young players insist on defining themselves and tennis players in general, with new roles and a fuller effect – to spend time as models, influencers, investors, musicians; to reveal more of themselves to be understood as friendly, creative, political, depressed, complex.

Enter Taylor Fritz. The 25-year-old top-ranked American finished 2022 on a blazing hot streak, breaking into the top 10 for the first time and now stars in a new Netflix series, Breaking point, following the work of a rising group of talent. Days before the start of the Australian Open, Fritz caught up with Charlie Dulick, co-founder of Club Leftist Tennis, Substack’s newsletter covering tennis through a leftist lens, to talk about the show, his generation of players, prank wars, San Diego burritos and etc.


CHARLIE DULICK: Congratulations on winning the United Cup for Team USA. How does it feel to head into the Australian Open with that kind of momentum?

TAYLOR FRITZ: It’s great to have that confidence, to be able to win an event, and not just win it, but to be able to play a lot of matches against top players and feel like I’m playing really well.

DULICK: You were on a crazy hot streak, breaking into the top 10 late last year. I’m curious what you think really started to click for you?

FRITZ: Throughout last year, I felt like my forehand became much more of a weapon. I can trust him a lot more. A lot of my game is coming together and I’m a lot more stable. I guess my average level, which I will appear with most of the time, has improved a lot. Not only can I play really, really well, but if I don’t then I can’t beat people. I think now I’m showing up and what I’m going to bring 90% of the time is a real top 10 level. So that was a big thing.

DULICK: It was great to watch that happen as a fan. And I love watching all these team tournaments, like the United Cup. I’m curious if you feel like it brings a different element to your game when you’re playing with other young players and other Americans as opposed to always being vs everyone?

FRITZ: I think there are definitely different aspects. I have always performed very well in team events. I think it’s because it brings you a slightly different energy. There is more pressure. I feel like you almost want to even win More ▼because you’re not just playing for yourself, you’re playing for other people too.

DULICK: You seemed to have good company, but I was concerned. I saw on your Twitter that Frances Tiafoe once choked you in public. So I wonder if you have big plans for some revenge?

FRITZ: It’s hard to get Francis’ pants back on because his butt is so big. You can’t actually pull the shorts down.

DULICK: You’re taking the high road.

FRITZ: No, no, no. I wish I could take it back. I’m sure I’ll get it back someday. Him and I, we go back and forth all the time. Is anyone really a good friend if you can’t mess with each other? Such is our relationship.

DULICK: Absolutely. So you’re one of the new stars of this Netflix series, Breaking point. I’m wondering what you hope people, whether tennis fans or non-tennis fans, take away from you personally.

FRITZ: I’m not entirely sure. I think I tried to just be myself and be very real for the cameras. I tried. I never acted like they were there. I just hope to come out as myself, confident, relaxed, easy going, hard working.

DULICK: It’s cool to me that it’s not just about you, it’s about this whole class of young stars. You get the personal angle you talk about. Do you think viewers will have any takeaways about your generation?

FRITZ: I’m not quite sure yet. I haven’t seen all five episodes, but I feel like there’s going to be a lot of emphasis on how incredibly difficult it is just to be on the tennis tour because it’s so continuous. It’s so stressful all the time how the leaderboards work and how the points work and how you can lose everything you’ve worked for a long time if you just get injured or have a bad year. I think it will emphasize a lot of the mental difficulties of the sport.

DULICK: There’s a big Calvin Klein billboard in Manhattan with Alcaraz in his underwear. Can we expect a big Taylor Fritz underwear ad anytime soon?

FRITZ: Maybe. You never know.

DULICK: Make yourself more accessible to fans. You’re talking about showing them what your mindset is, your personality. I understand you are also a Twitch streamer. Did the game teach you any lessons that you carry on the court?

FRITZ: I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a Twitch streamer. Actually, it’s been a long time. But it’s fun playing games when I have the energy to interact with the fans. I guess they can see me in a different way than they usually do, as opposed to when they see me on the court or in interviews. They can only see me at home, resting, playing games and being very carefree.

DULICK: Players of your generation want to show the fans what they are like in different contexts. What do you think about younger players who are more likely to be on Twitch or appear on Twitter and TikTok?

FRITZ: I think it’s important for the sport to grow, to be honest, just to build an audience, build a fan base outside of tennis and potentially get people more interested in tennis. Maybe if someone happens to see a TikTok made by a tennis player, then they will want to go watch that player play or get more into the sport. I think it’s important for your personal brand as well as the sport.

DULICK: Do people react to you differently after you’ve climbed the charts?

FRITZ: Yes, obviously, as my ranking goes up, with more earnings, there will be more fans and more attention on me. But I feel like it’s a very natural growth. It’s no coincidence that profits and such are tied to all the attention you’ll get online.

DULICK: Another sport that’s gaining momentum right now is pickleball. are you a fan

FRITZ: I think it’s pretty split, at least in tennis. There are people who hate pickles and people who don’t see heartburn as a problem and support it. I’d say I’m from that country. I think it’s great that people can just play and have fun. I think it’s also great for us as tennis players because even without having to play it, we already have a huge advantage over everyone else who plays it.

DULICK: Absolutely.

FRITZ: It’s just easy. I understand why it’s becoming popular because it’s much easier to start playing and be decent than tennis. Tennis is extremely difficult for the average person to play just a few times and still have fun doing it.

DULICK: But did you ever wish people would gravitate to tennis so quickly?

FRITZ: Yes, obviously I wish there was more popularity for tennis. I hope the show achieves a lot of that. But, like I said, I understand why it’s easy for any random person to go play pickleball and enjoy it. Tennis takes a lot more time and effort to get to a level where you can enjoy the game.

DULICK: You’re in Australia for a bit between tournaments and before the Australian Open. Do you do anything to relax? Get out and experience Australian culture? Or is it all business?

FRITZ: I am almost all business. My days are very long. In tennis, you don’t really have a very long off-season, so I have to use this week as a big training week. I’m on the courts six to eight hours a day, whether it’s physio, tennis, gym and then physio again for recovery. Hopefully I can get away for two nights. But usually after being away for so long, I really just want to enjoy my free time relaxing in my room.

DULICK: It’s too bad because I feel like Australia almost has a spiritual overlap with your hometown, San Diego.

FRITZ: Maybe a little. I think it’s very hard for me to compare anything to San Diego, I would say.

DULICK: Are you a San Diego guy, are you a french fry in a burrito? Or are you more traditional?

FRITZ: Oh, absolutely. Che is traditional stuff in a burrito.

DULICK: I’m from Northern California, so it’s always been the weird thing that they do in San Diego.

FRITZ: This is the classic.

DULIC: You will take no other form.

FRITZ: That’s right.

DULICK: I have a few more questions for you. I want to go back to this generation where more players put their personal lives out there. You recently spoke out in support of any gay players on tour should they come out. Why are more players, especially younger ones, speaking out on real social and political issues?

FRITZ: I feel like we’re being asked, to be honest. It’s not necessarily my place or my expertise to talk about such things, but if I’m asked in the interview then I’ll talk about it and give my honest opinion. It’s always been difficult because when you’re asked something that might be, I guess, “controversial,” it’s a double-edged sword. No matter what you say, there will be people who disagree with you. So I think that’s always why the players haven’t talked about these things. But I think it’s important to have a voice and be different, not just be a robot that answers every question the same way, so you’re never ostracized for saying what you believe.

DULICK: You might get some heat for your burrito opinion, but I appreciate you standing your ground. Describe your thinking about the Australian Open in three words.

FRITZ: Three words? Confident, calm and ready.

DULICK: Well, thank you very much. It’s great talking to you.

FRITZ: Great, thanks, Charlie.


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