Fritz blitz helps American teenager set Memphis milestone

Sat Feb 13, 2016 11:43pm EST
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(Reuters) - Talented teenager Taylor Fritz surpassed Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi and John McEnroe to become the fastest American finalist on the ATP Tour after reaching the title decider in Memphis on Saturday.

Fritz, just 18-years and three months, fought back to beat Lithuania's Ricardas Berankis 2-6 6-3 6-4 on his fifth match point and reach the final of the ATP 250 event in just his third on the men's tour.

He is the youngest American to reach a tour final since Michael Chang won the 1989 Wembley title at 17. He will face Japanese top seed and world number seven Kei Nishikori, who is coached by Chang, in Sunday's final.

"It's the best feeling in the world," Fritz said.

"To be here and think that it's the final is crazy. I'm really excited that I got to this level and I've proven myself that I belong here.

"It's amazing to have this support. I feel so loved here. It's the best feeling in the world. I owe a lot to the crowd pumping me up."

The American who was ranked 694th in the world in October is expected to move inside the top 100 if he can beat the triple defending champion, who edged American Sam Querrey 3-6 6-3 6-3 in the second semi-final.

Nishikori had taken six events to make his first ATP Tour final back in 2006 where he won in Delray Beach, while world number one Novak Djokovic needed 24, second ranked Andy Murray eight and 17-times grand slam champion Roger Federer 21.

Fritz, though, surpassed all of them at just the third attempt, also beating the record of American major winners like Connors (10), Agassi (11), Chang (17) and McEnroe (17).   Continued...