ATP Tour

US teen makes history by reaching ATP final

Tennis (File)
Tennis (File)

Washington - Teen prodigy Taylor Fritz became the fastest American finalist in ATP history Saturday, downing Lithuania's Ricardas Berankis to reach the Memphis Open final in only his third tour-level event.

The 18-year-old wildcard entrant fired 17 aces in ousting 102nd-ranked Berankis 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Jimmy Connors and Andy Roddick had been the Americans needing the fewest ATP events to reach a final, each doing so in his 10th career tournament.

But Fritz, ranked 145th, shattered that mark. After starting the week 1-2 in ATP play, he has won four matches and would crack the top 100 by taking the title.

"It feels incredible," Fritz said. "It's crazy what winning four tennis matches can achieve. I'm so happy."

Fritz would be the youngest American to capture an ATP title since a 17-year-old Michael Chang won at at Wembley in 1989.

Fritz, last year's US Open junior champion, made his ATP debut last year at Nottingham, beating Carreno Busta before a second-round exit. He lost to compatriot Jack Sock in five sets in the first round of last month's Australian Open.

A double fault by Berankis handed Fritz a 2-1 edge in the last set. The European broke back for 4-4 with a service return winner only to double fault on break point again in the ninth game.

Fritz held to take the match in a wild final game that saw him squander four match points, then deny two break chances before Berankis netted a backhand to finally end matters after one hour and 40 minutes.

Berankis captured the first set in only 32 minutes, breaking on a forehand winner for a 2-1 lead and twice more to seize command, but Fritz broke in the sixth and eighth games of the second set, then held at love to force a third.

"It's incredible," Fritz said. "After the first set it wasn't looking too good. I was getting beaten every way possible. But I was able to turn it around and that makes it twice as good."

Berankis captured the first set in only 32 minutes, breaking on a forehand winner for a 2-1 lead and twice more to seize command, but Fritz broke in the sixth and eighth games of the second set, then held at love to force a third.

"There's nothing more frustrating than you feel like you're not doing anything wrong and you're getting destroyed," Fritz said. "I turned up the speed of my serves and really got them going."

Berankis still seeks his first ATP title, having lost to Querrey at Los Angeles in 2012 in his only tour final.

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